Al Jazeera unloaded a bombshell on the US-brokered Israel-Palestine diplomacy today when they released the first wave of what they are calling “The Palestine Papers.”
These papers consist of some 1,600 internal documents (e-mails, minutes of classified meetings, maps and strategy papers) from negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis from 1999-2010. The revelations are staggering, largely in that they confirm what most serious analysts have been saying for the past decade: that these negotiations have been futile from the beginning owing to the severe imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians and the US’ failure to act as an honest broker.
The revelations in the initial release include these:
- The Palestinian Authority (PA) was willing to give over to Israel all the existing territory on which Israel has established settlements in East Jerusalem except for Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim). This was something Yasir Arafat had specifically refused to do in 2000
- The PA was also willing to settle for only a token number of refugees returning to Israel and would agree to a 1:1 land swap of 1.9% of West Bank Territory in exchange for an equal quantity of Israeli territory
- That Israel rejected these offers out of hand, while insisting that it was the Palestinians who were being intransigent
- That the US told the Palestinians that they must cede the areas of the settlements of Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim or the Palestinians “won’t have a state,” fully adopting the Israeli position
The US, frequently said to have acted as Israel’s lawyer, simply was not even trying to balance the power scales in these negotiations, but only adding the weight of the world’s only superpower behind that of the regional power, Israel.
Israel, for its part, is convincingly revealed as not being interested in reaching a deal with the Palestinians without a complete Palestinian surrender; there was no hint here of compromise, even with the allegedly more moderate Kadima government. Tzipi Livni, indeed, seems assured that the Palestinians would eventually have to agree with her, since the alternative would be dealing with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Let’s look at what these, and many other, revelations mean for each of the parties and for the peace process more broadly. Continue reading