The first day following the release of the Palestine papers was certainly interesting. After revealing that the PA had offered to concede nearly all the illegal Israeli settlements in and around Jerusalem, allowed international control of Haram al-Sharif and proposed new borders which drastically reduced the size of the Palestinian state (all of which were refused by Israel), the main conclusion was simple: the PA is weak and desperate. Chief negotiator Sa’ed Erekat – who was quoted as offering “the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history” – defended the PA, saying that the papers took positions out of context or misrepresented realities. Noting the negotiations included discussions of ‘solutions’ that could never be accepted, Erekat reiterated that any deal that is made with Israel would be subject to a national referendum. To defend the PA, Erekat added that the papers were full of “lives and half truths,” President Abbas said that the Palestinian positions in the papers were actually Israeli proposals, and Ahmed Qureia, the chief negotiator in 2008, continued the PA’s defense by saying that the papers were “fabricated.”
[tweetmeme] But the damage control effort didn’t stop there. PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo (who offered to recognize Israel as a Jewish state last year) held a press conference yesterday, tearing into Al Jazeera as well as, interestingly, the Emir of Qatar (Qatar sponsored Al Jazeera). Opinions poured in from around the region and the world. Avigdor Lieberman said it proved that the only agreement could be temporary; Tzipi Livni said that talks had not been exhausted and were derailed by Israeli elections; former US negotiator Aaron David Miller said that an agreement was not made because Israel was politically unable; and Blake Hounshell, editor of Foreign Policy, said that the two state solution is dead.
Fatah supporters in Ramallah lashed out, with 250 people protesting in front of the local Al Jazeera headquarters. Palestinian police broke up the demonstration after protesters broke glass and tried to enter the premises (see video below).
To ebb against the flow, the LATimes concludes that the leaked documents don’t show the Palestinians offering absurd concession, but that the talks were following previous parameters and were completely reasonable:
But giving Jewish areas of Jerusalem to Israel and Palestinian areas to the Palestinian Authority is an idea that been supported widely for years, since it was proposed by President Clinton…
To most Mideast experts, exchanging Jerusalem developments such as Gilo and French Hill for settlements such as Maale Adumim and Ariel sounds like a great deal for Palestinians and a non-starter for Israelis. And that’s pretty much how it played out, with Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejecting the offer.
As for analysis, I’ll point you towards some good reads:
- How Leaked Palestinian documents will affect Abbas, peace process – CSMonitor: Takes a look at what the future holds
- MJ Rosenberg says that the humiliated US must not veto the UN resolution against settlements and that the humiliated Fatah must reach out to Hamas.
- Amjad Atallah writes that the documents undermine three basic assumptions about the talks, and is part of Arab revolution?
- Bernard Avishai says that The Guardian is irresponsible and pandering to Palestinian rejectionists
Photo from Libcom