(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The organizers of the “HaaretzQ with New Israel Fund” conference in New York City removed the Israeli flag from the stage ahead of chief Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiator Saeb Erekat’s speech on Sunday, sparking harsh criticism.
Many participants called the decision was “miserable” and “unfortunate.” In an official statement, Haaretz said, “Mr. Erekat’s team requested he not be made to speak next to the Israeli flag, and we honored his wishes.”
Speaking with Army Radio on Monday, Haaretz Publisher Amos Schocken said, “Haaretz doesn’t hold conferences against the backdrop of the Israeli flag….We did not place a Palestinian flag on the stage during Erekat’s speech. We had no intention of placing any flag on the stage. We placed it on stage at President [Reuven] Rivlin’s request, and removed it at Erekat’s request.”
While on stage, Erekat insisted that the PA “has recognized Israel’s existence and its right to peacefully exist within the 1967 lines.” He accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “destroying the two-state solution and promoting apartheid.”
Israeli Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) said the flag incident “proves, yet again, that the problem we have with the Palestinian leadership is not a territorial dispute, but it lies with their inability to recognize a Jewish state within any lines.”
Elkin said the incident “disgraced Haaretz, which defines itself as an Israeli newspaper and is willing to champion any right—except the right to place the Israeli flag on its stage.”