The release of the Palestine Papers reveals a truth that the world outside of America and Israel has always known – that Israel has never been interested in a meaningful peace deal with the Palestinians.
The papers, obtained by the news network Al Jazeera and the Guardian, reveal thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records covering more than 10 years of negotiations with Israel and the US.
The papers blow apart the Israel/American myth that they have no serious negotiating partners in the Palestinians. In fact, the exact opposite is revealed. The Guardian reports:
As well as the annexation of all East Jerusalem settlements except Har Homa, the Palestine papers show PLO leaders privately suggested swapping part of the flashpoint East Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah for land elsewhere.
Most controversially, they also proposed a joint committee to take over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City – the neuralgic issue that helped sink the Camp David talks in 2000 after Yasser Arafat refused to concede sovereignty around the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.
Israel consistently shot down the increasingly desperate Palestinian offers, raising the bar again and again to ensure the Palestinians could meet their demands. The Guardian notes:
The overall impression that emerges from the documents, which stretch from 1999 to 2010, is of the weakness and growing desperation of PA leaders as failure to reach agreement or even halt all settlement temporarily undermines their credibility in relation to their Hamas rivals; the papers also reveal the unyielding confidence of Israeli negotiators and the often dismissive attitude of US politicians towards Palestinian representatives.
The papers are of course only one side of the story – but the picture it portrays is not favorable to either side leading many to believe they provide an accurate insight into the conflict. Juan Cole writes:
The documents could well destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization, a coalition of parties that includes Fatah, which is led by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Among the politicians who comes off the worst in these documents is Saeb Erekat. The Palestinian Authority is revealed as feeble as a kitten. Like a a spurned suitor, Erekat kept offering the Israelis more and more, and they kept rejecting his overtures.
The PLO has been busy denying the accuracy of the papers while the Israeli government is amazingly arguing that they reveal how outrageous Palestinian demands have been. A Netanyahu aide stated the following:
“The documents show that the Palestinian demand over the last year and a half to freeze construction in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem is ridiculous, since it is clear that they had already conceded the aforementioned neighborhoods in negotiations during Olmert’s tenure.”
Regardless of Israeli propaganda, the truth is now there for everyone to see. The papers reveal the brutal reality that Palestinians face – a relentless war to rob them of their land and no seeming way out.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.