The “Palestine Papers” Revealed – by Stephen Lendman
On January 23, Al Jazeera released breaking news on its extensive “Palestine Papers” coverage, introducing them, saying:
It “obtained more than 1,600 internal documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” writer Gregg Carlstrom explaining that:
“Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” They include “nearly 1,700 files, (and) thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of” peace process negotiations.
Included (from 1999 – 2010) were “emails, maps, minutes of private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations….”
Releasing them from January 23 – 26, they reveal information about:
— the PA’s willingness to concede all East Jerusalem settlements except one;
— PA “creativ(ity)” about Islam’s third holiest site, Haram al-Sharif (Nobel Sanctuary), what Jews call the Temple Mount;
— compromise on the right of return, suggesting abandonment beyond token amounts;
— numerous details of PA-Israeli “cooperation,” suggesting complicity and unconditional surrender to Israeli demands; and
— private late 2009 PA-US negotiator exchanges when Goldstone Report discussions were ongoing at the UN.
Because of obvious sensitivity, Al Jazeera will keep source information confidential as well as how documents were obtained.
In a January 23 London Guardian article, Karma Nabulski headlined, “This seemingly endless and ugly game of the peace process is now finally over,” saying:
“It’s over. Given the shocking nature, extent and detail of these ghastly revelations from behind closed doors (shows none) of the villains on the Palestinian side can survive it….A small group of (duplicitous) men who have polluted the Palestinian public sphere with their private activities are now exposed.”
In fact, the PA is infested with traitors, some more recent like Salam Fayyad. As appointed prime minister, he’s Israel’s man in Palestine as a previous article explained, accessed through the following link:
President Mahmoud Abbas’ treachery way predates him also discussed in a previous article, accessed through the following link:
Jeffrey Blankfort called him a “double agent (serving) his Israeli and US masters in plain sight.” Saying he’s “Israel’s sheriff,” Edward Said called him “colorless, moderately corrupt and without any clear ideas of his own, except that he wants to please the white man.”
As chief Oslo negotiator, he surrendered unconditionally to Israeli demands, Said explaining:
“the fashion-show vulgarities of the (1993) White House ceremony, the degrading spectacle of Yasser Arafat thanking everyone for the suspension of most of his people’s rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton’s performance, like a 20th century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance, (and) the truly astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation.”
It was unilateral surrender, a Palestinian Versailles. They got nothing for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, letting it colonize Palestine, and leaving major unresolved issues for later final status talks, including self-determination, the right to return, the future of settlements, borders, water rights, and status of Jerusalem as sovereign Palestinian territory and future home of its capital.
Under Arafat, a new PA was established as Israel’s enforcer. At Oslo, Abbas arranged it, getting nothing except White House photo-ops and undisclosed personal favors. Nearly two decades later, they’ve still gotten nothing under him as president, serving his Israeli and US masters.
Main PA Negotiators/Traitors
Besides Abbas, they include:
(1) Saeb Erekat: Since the 1991 Madrid Conference attempt to restart the peace process, he was involved. Thereafter, he took part in every major negotiation, including Oslo and what followed. Overall, he participated in 116 meetings with Israeli, US, and European officials, and for the past two years, served as chief negotiator.
(2) Ahmed Qurei: From 2003 – January 2006 elections defeating Fatah for a new Hamas government, he was Palestinian prime minister. After leaving office, he became chief PA negotiator until late 2008. The documents suggest political infighting reduced his status.
(3) Maen Areikat: In 1992, he began working with Hanan Ashrawi, at the time, official spokeswoman of the Palestinian delegation to peace talk negotiations. In 1998, he served as PLO director general of the Negotiations Affairs Department, supervising its Negotiations Support Unit, providing legal, policy, communications and technical support to Palestinian negotiators. He’s currently heads the PLO mission to the US representative.
(4) Mohammed Dahlan: After Oslo, he headed the PA’s Preventive Security Service in Gaza. In the 1990s, his soldiers were accused of torturing Hamas prisoners. As a notorious Palestinian strongman, he’s perhaps its most controversial figure. In 2007, he headed the failed CIA-funded attempt to unseat Hamas in Gaza, and since August 2009, he’s been an elected member of Fatah’s Central Committee.
Erekat’s Yerushalayim/Haram al-Sharif Solution
As chief PA negotiator, he “suggested unprecedented compromises on the division of Jerusalem and its holy sites,” including ceding control to an international committee. Palestinians accused Israel of Judaizing East Jerusalem as well as pursuing destructive excavations to undermine the al-Aqsa mosque’s foundation, damaging its structural integrity, perhaps intending to destroy it.
Documents reveal that during an October 21, 2009 meeting with George Mitchell and other US negotiators, he said:
“It’s solved. You have the Clinton Parameters formula. For the Old City sovereignty for Palestine, except the Jewish quarter and part of the Armenian quarter….the Haram can be left to be discussed – there are creative ways, having a body or a committee, having undertakings, for example, not to dig (under the mosque). The only thing I cannot do is convert to Zionism.”
Haram’s status was seldom considered. As late as a July 2, 2008 meeting, Israeli negotiators were told discussing it was off-limits and that they couldn’t bargain on Jerusalem. Yet Erekat and those under him did so, “regardless of the tactical consequences.”
A month later, at a June 30, 2008 meeting, he said:
“It is no secret that on our map we proposed we are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim in history. But we must talk about the concept of Al-Quds (Jerusalem). (We) have a detailed concept (and) it’s doable.”
He seemed willing to accept an international overseeing arrangement, what never before was considered, fearing it would be a first step to losing it entirely and angering the entire Arab world. As chief negotiator, he “appeared totally disconnected from his own people, as well as his wider Arab and Muslim constituency.”
He was “so consumed by the negotiations that he became oblivious of the import of his remarks among Arabs, Muslims, and – most of all – his own people. Even among some Israelis, this seemed infantile.” According to Israeli lawyer Danied Seidemann:
“(A)ny attempt to construe the API (Arab Palestine Initiative) in a manner that falls short of ‘full-stop’ Palestinian or Arab sovereignty on the Haram/Mount would be an exercise in self-delusion.”
On January 14, Haaretz News Agencies headlined, “Abbas: Concessions in Palestine papers came from Israel, not us,” saying:
He “denied offering secret concessions to Israel and said that reporting of purportedly leaked documents” mistakenly presented Israeli positions, not those of his negotiators. Calling it a “mix-up,” he said it was “intentional….We say things very clearly, we do not have secrets.”
Clearly embarrassed like Abbas, Ahmed Qureia, chief 2008 negotiator, said “many parts of the documents were fabricated, as part of the incitement against the (PA) and the Palestinian leadership.” He denied making duplicitous offers, calling reports about Erekat “lies and half truths.” In fact, they came from his own verbatim comments.
On January 24, Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar headlined, “Lieberman’s map for future Palestinian borders is a joke,” calling it:
“a predetermined ritual: The government refuses to freeze settlement construction, the Palestinians freeze the negotiations, (Netanyahu) blames (Abbas), the international community presses Israel, Netanyahu/Lieberman/Barak (leak) ‘a new political program,’ (and) Palestinians reject it.”
With nothing constructive in it, it’s like trying to make eggs out of omelets or caterpillars out of butterflies.
BBC headlined, “Excepts: Leaked Palestinian ‘proposals,’ ” saying:
Their negotiators offered unprecedented concessions, including willingness “to accept Israel’s annexation of all but one of its settlements built illegally in occupied East Jerusalem.” They also “show how the Palestinians offered concessions on” Haram.
“They could not be independently verified and the chief Palestinian negotiator has dismissed them as a ‘pack of lies.’ ”
The last refuge of a scoundrel caught red-handed is lying about it, revealing even greater treachery.
On January 23, London Guardian writers Seumas Milne and Ian Black headlined, “Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process,” saying:
Offered concessions sent “shockwaves (across Occupied Palestine and) the wider Arab world.” Revelations include:
— unprecedented “confidential concessions,” including on some of the most sensitive issues;
— Israeli leaders asking “some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state;”
— intimate “covert cooperation between Israeli security forces and the” PA;
— British intelligence’s “central role (in) drawing up a secret plan to crush Hamas…;”
— how PA “leaders were privately tipped off about” Cast Lead, showing their complicity and willingness to go along; as well as much more.
Most revealing is “the weakness and growing desperation of PA leaders (to) reach agreement or even halt (settlement construction) temporarily,” undermining “their credibility in relation to their Hamas rivals.” In addition, Israeli negotiators showed “unyielding confidence,” and US politicians “dismissive(ness) towards Palestinian representatives,’ mere pawns to manipulate freely.
After the revelations, former Palestinian negotiator Diana Butto demanded Erekat resign, saying he “must step down and if he doesn’t it will only serve to show just how out of touch and unrepresentative the negotiators are.”
On January 23, New York Times writers Ethan Bronner and Neil MacFarquhar headlined, “Word of Palestinian Concession in 2008 Roils Mideast Debate,” saying:
New details emerged as Washington “is facing unusual pressure from its Arab and European allies, and even some former top American officials, not to veto a draft Security Council resolution reaffirming the longstanding international view” that Israeli settlements are illegal.
Of course, it’s far more than a “view.” Fundamental international laws affirm it, including Fourth Geneva prohibiting an occupying power from transferring its own population into territories its controls or changing their demographic makeup. Moreover, on March 22, 1979, UN Security Council Resolution 446 determined:
“that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
At the time, Washington abstained. Now it obstructs by vetoing anything detrimental to Israel. According to Maged Abdelaziz, Egypt’s UN ambassador:
“The statements by the secretary of state and the American administration are that ‘We are against settlements and we are not going to do anything about (them) and we don’t want you to do anything about (them). We will let Israel do what they want. We will wake up one day to find that the two-state solution has become a dream that is unachievable.”
That day, in fact, long since passed, given how untenable division is after Israel expropriated all choice land and plans total Jerusalem Judaization, one home demolition and stolen dunam at a time.
On January 23, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said “The US government is reviewing the alleged Palestinian documents released by Al-Jazeera. We cannot vouch for their veracity.” Later he added that Washington “remains focused on a two-state solution and will continue to work with the parties to narrow existing differences on core issues.”
So far, Obama and Netanyahu said nothing, and on January 24, Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal was silent.
In contrast, Financial Times contributor Nadia Hijab headlined, “Leaks will cripple Palestinian authority,” saying:
“It is likely to deal a death blow to an American-led peace process already on life support, and hasten the end of the” Oslo-created PA. Al Jazeera’s revelations confirm what’s been “clear to Palestinians for decades: their leadership” has conceded virtually all their rights, getting nothing back in return. Ahead are “two plausible options,” likely neither of which will be taken:
— dissolving the PA, uniting all factions (including Hamas), and refocusing on liberation, the only viable goal; or
— “continu(ing) down the road of hoping” pressure will get Israel to yield what it never did before.
Because of PA treachery, it looks “increasingly (like) a hollow shell, that may soon be blown away. The winds are coming from Tunisia. Palestine may be next.”
A Final Comment
Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar said Al Jazeera’s bombshell “trump(ed) WikiLeaks.” Perhaps so if duplicitous peace talks end, exposed Israeli/US perfidy weaken their influence internationally, PA credibility crumbles, then self-destructs, inspiring Palestinians to unite under viable leaders, choosing liberation as their goal.
Achieving those objectives won’t come easily or soon, but what’s more important than seizing a rare opportunity for change. Tunisian winds are spreading regionally. Thousands are demonstrating in Tunis, other Tunisian cities, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, and may erupt anywhere from Morocco to Egypt to Occupied Palestine.
Sustained grassroots anger brings change, and what better reasons than poverty, unemployment, repression, occupation, and suffocating conditions under siege. Maybe exposed PA treachery created a rare chance seldom possible. Now’s the time to seize it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.