Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Palestine Papers: Negotiations, Lies, And The Guardian's Relief

The Guardian, in conjunction with Al Jazeera have leaked papers relating to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations from the last 10 years. Strangely, even with their exclusive access, the Guardian can't actually seem to comprehend the meaning and significance of the documents. One of their headlines claims "Palestinian negotiators accept Jewish state, papers reveal", leaving out what PA negotiator Saeb Erakat actually said in the memos, which was "call it what you want... this is their issue, not mine". In response to the leaks, JPost reports that Erakat denied that the PA has ever offered to give away any of East Jerusalem, and "denied that the PA had agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He said that when asked by Israel to accept this demand, he replied that it was tantamount to asking a Palestinian to join the Zionist movement." Erakat has also reinforced that the position has always been that the
"Palestinian Authority would never give up any of our rights. If we did indeed offer Israel the Jewish and Armenian quarters of Jerusalem, and the biggest Yerushalayim as they claim, then why did Israel not sign a final status agreement?... Is it not strange that we would offer all these concessions which Israel demands, yet there is still no peace deal?"
Meanwhile PA president Mahmoud Abbas claims that it has been distorted so that the position of dividing the Old City, taking in 100,000 Palestinian refugees, and recognising Israel as the Jewish state is portrayed as the Palestinian position by Al Jazeera and the Guardian, when actually this is what is widely known as the Israeli position: "What is intended is a mix-up. I have seen them yesterday present things as Palestinian but they were Israeli... this is therefore intentional". So Abbas is now using Israel's transparency in these matters to defend himself.

In Hamas' view, this shows the "ugly face of the [Palestinian] authority, and the level of its co-operation with the occupation... and involvement in attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause, particularly on the issue of Jerusalem and refugees, and its involvement against the resistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip".

Unsurprisingly, but sickening all the same, is that this is the Guardian's take on it as well. Robin Shepherd observes that it shows that the political establishments, NGOs and media, particularly the Guardian, "have been adopting a position which was significantly more uncompromising on 'settlements'... more hardline against Israel than the Palestinian leadership itself."

CifWatch point out how, even worse, the Guardian's editorial in scorning the Palestinians' flexibility as "weakness" has actively
"egged on the Palestinians to reject even the slightest territorial compromise, encouraged them to accept nothing less than new maximalist demands, and, most dangerously, legitimized and empowered the most radical movement in their society: Hamas".
"Not content to merely cheer lead for the Palestinian side, and demonize Israel, they now seem to view their role as inciting the Palestinians to reject moderation and accommodation... in framing the compromises which may have been considered by the Palestinian leadership, as a cowardly surrender to the cause, Guardian editors have now emboldened Hamas, and have abandoned even the pretense of advocating for peace."
In stark contrast to the Guardian - who, originally shocked and dismayed at the Palestinians' apparent willingness to talk, are at the same time relishing their role in how the leaks will prolong the conflict* - the Times take an optimistic view of hopes for peace in the future:
"At last, Palestinian leaders appear to acknowledge that peace requires giving up things that they would otherwise wish to keep. They have provoked denunciation from theocratic absolutists [like the Guardian!] for whom compromise is betrayal. And that is reason enough to be hopeful."
We can be hopeful, but should also be realistic. Elder of Ziyon points out that whilst the documents do seem to be true, the Palestinian leaders' reactions to it are what is most telling about the difficulties in solving the conflict. The fact that they kept it all so secret, never explaining to their people their efforts to make peace, and now the way in which they're denying the truth of the documents, indicates that peace is not their priority. They have demonstrated they they are fully aware that the majority of the Palestinian people would not accept any of the suggested concessions, and they have done nothing to try and educate their people to change this stance.


  1. Those settlements are an abomination. why should 1% of the people get 80% of the water? they violate international law, and even people within Israel have condemned them as stupid and unneccessary. I've known a few die hard israelis, even they tend to think the settlements are stupid. Those settlements DO NOT DESERVE TO EXIST. The palestinians have every right to want those guys out.

    What's more, when a poll was conducted, it found that while most of the palestinians did currently want a one state solution it was more due to distrust to Israel (when asked what their view would be if the negotiations involved building up institutions and genuine borders based on 1967 the amount of people willing to consider supportint Isreal's right to exist rose to about...50% which is actually fairly hopeful.

  2. The settlements aren't illegal. Those areas were won after the Arabs started war with Israel.

    And why should Jews not be allowed to live there when Palestinians live wherever they want in Israel? The Palestinians wouldn't allow any Jews to live in a potential Palestinian State, doesn't that sound apartheid to you?