Palestinian Official: 'Nikki Haley Needs to Shut Up'

Nikki Haley,
Nikki Haley, United States ambassador to the United Nations / Getty Images
February 4, 2018

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat sharply criticized United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley on Saturday, calling her "impudent" and saying she should "shut up."

The comments made by Erekat, who is the Palestine Liberation Organization's secretary general, came in reaction to a recent speech Haley gave to the U.N. in which he claimed Haley called for the "overthrowing" of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, the Times of Israel reports.

"She called for overthrowing the democratically elected Palestinian president," Erekat said in an interview with the Palestinian Al-Watan Voice news website.

"This is the president [Abbas] who led the peace process and promoted the principle of the two-state solution," Erekat said, "Now this [US] ambassador is accusing him of lacking courage, and is calling for replacing him."

Erekat added Haley's remarks, and President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, amounts to attempts from the U.S. to stage a "coup" against the "Palestinian political system."

"Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realize that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem," Erekat said. "Instead, the problem is the Israeli occupation and the policies it continues to pursue. I’m not saying that we don’t make mistakes; every society and every government makes mistakes."

"U.S. and Israeli officials are saying that any Palestinian leader who insists on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine and is committed to the right of return, in accordance with United Nations resolution 194, should be removed from power and replaced," he added.

Erekat continued accusing the U.S. and Israel of having the goal to "undermine the Palestinian national project" as they search for Palestinian leaders who will accept the "liquidation of the Palestinian national project."

The comments come in response to Haley's speech to the U.N. on January 25, where she drew attention to Abbas rejecting "any American role in peace talks" and insulting Trump.

"President Abbas declared the landmark Oslo Peace Accords dead. He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American President. He called for suspending recognition of Israel. He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers," Haley said.

"A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and the will to seek peace," she added.

Referencing the Jordanian and Egyptian leaders who’ve made peace with Israel, Haley called on Abbas to be "that type of leader."

"I ask here today, where is the Palestinian King Hussein? Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat? If President Abbas demonstrates he can be that type of leader, we would welcome it. His recent actions demonstrate the total opposite," Haley said.

Erekat insisted Palestinians are not looking for a fight with the U.S., as they plan to take the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to the International Court of Justice.

"We don’t seek a confrontation or a fight with the U.S. administration," Erekat said. "On the contrary—they are the ones taking several steps. The U.S. administration is itself saying that it’s not an honest broker in the peace process. Therefore, we are seeking, together with international parties, to convene an international conference for peace."