Palestinians Blast Leaks Showing Peace-Talk Concessions
January 28, 2011
The Palestinian documents, released by al Jazeera late Sunday, triggered a massive outpouring of anger in the Palestinian territories directed at the Palestinian Authority leadership, which held uncompromising positions in public but appears to have given way to Israel in private negotiations.
Israel, meanwhile, is portrayed in the documents as slowing the Mideast peace process by turning down unprecedented Palestinian concessions.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, in charge of the office from which al Jazeera and Palestinian officials said the leaks originated, said al Jazeera had "misrepresented our positions, taking statements and facts out of context."
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the leaks.
Some highlights from the leaked documents
January 2010: A Palestinian negotiator presented an offer to a White House aide, saying, "What is in that paper gives them the biggest [Jerusalem] in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarized state… what more can I give?"
June 2008: In a meeting with then-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Palestinian Authority adviser Ahmed Qureia ceded every Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem except Har Homa. The adviser noted: "This is the first time in history that we make such a proposition; we refused to do so in Camp David."
September 2009: Before U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Abbas's chief negotiator warned damage would doom Mr. Abbas's political standing at home.
2008: In two meetings, then-Foreign Minister Ms. Livni seemed to propose transferring Arab citizens of Israel to a future Palestinain state.
A Palestinian official with access to the original documents said that all the documents released so far appeared to be authentic. A former Israeli official quoted in some of the documents also said they appeared authentic.
Al Jazeera on Monday continued its gradual release of what it said were nearly 1,700 leaked Palestinian documents, including minutes of meetings, internal emails, and draft agreements covering September 1999 to September 2010.
The documents appear to have been copied off the server of the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit, a Western-funded team of legal advisers to Palestinian negotiators established in 1999.
In an emotional 30-minute televised news conference, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian Authority official, accused Qatar, where al Jazeera is based, of conspiring with Iran and Syria to oust Mr. Abbas from power.
"No agreement will be signed without the approval of the Palestinian people," he said.
Hamas's deputy leader Osama Hamdan said on al Jazeera that the documents prove the Palestinian leadership is "not honest and have no credibility to negotiate."
The leaks comes as WikiLeaks continues to unveil its own trove of leaked U.S. State Department cables, which revealed fundamental contradictions between Arab leaders' public and private pronouncements.
The leak of the Palestinian documents highlight a shifting media landscape in the Arab world in which new media outlets are shaking regimes' monopoly on information and challenging the status quo across the region.
Many Palestinians have seized on the documents as proof that the peace process is dead.
Leaked documents have revealed for the first time how Palestinian leaders were prepared to allow Israel to retain large parts of illegally-occupied East Jerusalem as part of a deal to secure peace.
Israeli analysts said the documents could serve to boost international sympathy for the Palestinians at time when the Palestinians are trying to rally support for a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, and trying to persuade Western countries to recognize Palestinian statehood.