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September 20, 2021

Erekat quits, snap elections urged

Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s chief negotiator, has resigned from his post, after it emerged that the source of the Palestine Papers leak was in his own office, Al Jazeera reported. The decision was announced on Saturday, at the same time as a Palestinian Authority (PA) official announced that the body would be holding presidential and legislative elections before September this year. Erekat, who has retained his position in the PLO’s executive committee, said the investigation showed that the papers were leaked from the Negotiations Support Unit, which he heads. Hamas has rejected the call for elections. “Hamas will not take part in this election. We will not give it legitimacy. And we will not recognise the results,” Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman said. Last month, Erekat accused Al Jazeera of taking part in a campaign to overthrow the PA after more than 1,600 confidential files on the negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli officials were made public by the network. The documents, shared by Al Jazeera with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, exposed concessions to Israel in 10 years of secret peace talks, embarrassing and angering the PA leadership. At the time, Erekat accused Al Jazeera of attempting to discredit the peace process and provoke people into “a revolution against their leaders in order to bring down the Palestinian political system”. He insisted that the PA’s position on Jerusalem, refugees and borders during peace negotiations was based on internationally recognised principles. Responding to news of the resignation, PJ Crowley, the US state department’s spokesman, said the matter was an internal Palestinian issue, and that the US would continue to work with the PLO.

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