Maen Areikat, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's ambassador to the United States, met with reporters in Washington D.C. this morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor to talk about the Palestinian bid for statehood next week at the United Nations. But what would a Palestinian state look like if it came into existence? Would it tolerate minorities?
"Of course," Areikat told me after the breakfast concluded. "We're going to have a secular state. Of course, we're not going to have it based on religion. That's why we are sensitive to you know, giving these religious labels to the conflict."
But would homosexuals would be tolerated in a Palestinian state? "Ah, this is an issue that's beyond my [authority]," he said, trailing off.
As for Areikat's claim that a Palestinian state would tolerate religious minorities, that tolerance would not be extended to Jews, at least initially. Asked by the Daily Caller's Jamie Weinstein if, following the establishment of a Palestinian state, "there would be no Jews in the West Bank or Gaza," Areikat answered in the affirmative. "We have to be separated, we have to work on our own national identities," he said.
In an interview last year with Tablet magazine, Aerikat was more explicit on this point.
"Any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave?" he was asked.
"Absolutely," replied Areikat. "I think this is a very necessary step, before we can allow the two states to somehow develop their separate national identities, and then maybe open up the doors for all kinds of cultural, social, political, economic exchanges, that freedom of movement of both citizens of Israelis and Palestinians from one area to another. You know you have to think of the day after."
Areikat did not explain how a Palestinian state would go about removing all of the Jews within its borders.