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Leaked tape appears to highlight Palestinian schism

In a leaked voice recording, PLO head negotiator Saeb Erekat apparently accuses Mahmoud Abbas of treating Palestine 'like your father's farm'
Top PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat (left) sits with President Mahmoud Abbas (centre) (AFP)

A leaked three-and-a-half minute tape released on Wednesday appears to reveal a deep rift within the Palestinian leadership with a top PLO official attacking President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the unverified tape, Saeb Erekat, a lead negotiator with the Palestine Liberation Organisation and member of its executive committee, appears to berate Abbas for his failure to join international organisations and put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Erekat told Palestinian news site Dunya al-Watan that the tape includes statements he made in a public meeting that have been doctored together in a "type of fabrication" that misrepresents what he has said. 

In the recording, Erekat appears to be having a conversation with an unknown third party.

“This is not your father’s farm. This is a nation. This is Palestine," Erekat voice says about Abbas in the leaked clip.

"Abbas is 79 years old. What is he living for? To take a position and defend the cause of the Palestinian nation and that's it, nothing else?" says the voice in the clip.

In the recording, Erekat also rebukes Abbas for his failure to join the International Criminal Court, a step he was urged to take by a number of international organisations on 8 May.

He says that “Abbas has everything in hand…if you have the papers in your hand, use them.”

“If that had been done, Netanyahu would not be able to travel to any country in the world, because he would be a war criminal," Erekat is heard to say in the recording.

Erekat said Abbas had insisted on his position, despite Erekat gaining the support of the PLO’s Executive Committee, who registered 13 votes in favour of joining the ICC as opposed to four against.

According to the tape, Erekat submitted his resignation on two occasions, but it was not accepted.

Erekat previously resigned from his post as chief negotiator with the Palestinian government, citing the leak from his own office of the Palestine Papers, which shed light on Palestinian concessions during negotiations with Israel.