Fear and the Palestine Papers
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD

Ignoring the hype about the Palestine papers is hard.  I spent a lot of time
reading through page after page of the documents showing minutes of meetings and other exchanges regarding the Palestinian-Israeli “negotiations” (the quotes are warranted).  The Guardian newspaper summed up the back and forth arguments about these papers as follows:

” PA and PLO leaders such as Saeb Erekat can be expected to point out that one of the core principles of the negotiations is that ‘nothing is agreed
until everything is agreed’. As such they are not necessarily committed to
provisional positions that in the event failed to secure a settlement –
though Erekat made clear to US officials in January 2010 that the same
offers remained on the table. Critics are likely to argue that concessions –
such as accepting the annexation of Israeli settlements in occupied East
Jerusalem – are simply pocketed by the Israeli side, and risk being treated
as a starting point in any future talks.”



For me two things come out clearly from these painful documents (some of
them have parallel data in the US embassy cables on Wikileaks).  First it is
not that the Palestinian officials are traitors but merely (and this is bad
enough) mistakenly and passionately going through motions hoping against all odds that by talking and compromising more they could achieve a tiny fraction of what we are entitled to. The second observation is that Israel will not sign a peace deal regardless of how low and ridiculous the
concessions on the Palestinian side: hunt down resisters (abandoning the
internationally recognized rights of resistance to occupation even unarmed
one), give up on most settlements built illegally on Palestinian lands,
allow Israel sovereignty over nearly 1/3rd of the occupied old city of
Jerusalem, give up on the refugee rights, allow Israel to keep looting
natural resources in the West Bank, give Israel the right to control our
airspace, and even assure a statelet devoid of sovereignty. Not even tourism income would be allowed in this emasculated state.  Some critics asked:  if, as the documents show, the Palestinian negotiators were willing to accept all of this then WHY did Israeli politicians hold out?


The answer is obvious to anyone who ever faced Zionism. They believe
(rightly or wrongly) they can get 100% so why should they settle for 91% or even 99% especially when the ceiling of the Palestinian requests kept
dropping in the past 22 years (since they accepted in 1988 to let Israel
keep most of the looted parts of Palestine 1948).  Today, Israel’s three
main sources of income are dependent on a continued conflict and occupation: the 6.5 billion military and security exports, the 6 billion US and other western direct aid, and 3 billion from the captive markets in the West Bank and Gaza. All three would be threatened with end of conflict even if Israel gets to keep most of its stolen loot.   Israeli officials are keen to keep
negotiations going to avoid an anti-Apartheid scenario and for PR and
normalization to keep pumping more money and more settlers into the
remaining small shriveling Palestine because it is economically profitable.


The recorded meetings show no real interest or even emotion or any sense of urgency on the part of the Israelis or their American benefactors.  Saeb
Erekat comes out basically pleading and begging sometimes and other times using the presence of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to try and convince these officials.  Jim Jones, David, Hale, and (Israeli lobbyist Dennis Ross),
Tzipi Livni, Mofaz etc. all just repeat utter few selective words and simply
drag their feet to keep the “process going”.  What would be the nature of
the conversations if there was no Hamas to wave as the boogeyman to US
officials and claim success in containing Hamas and other “extremist
movements” (In Egypt Hosni Mubarak uses the same notion of containing
Islamic Jihad but for the sinister goal of justifying his dictatorship)?  US
officials are very confident of their strength and the Israeli strengths and
the fact that they only need the Palestinians to prevent any attempts at
international isolation of Israel.  This they get just by innuendo or hints
of threats on the Palestinians authority.  They studied the situation
carefully and think that Abbas and company have no other options but to
simply keep negotiating and compromising even if it takes another 20 years. In some very rare instances the negotiators seem to connect with their humanity and actually feel sorry for the fate of these Palestinian
negotiators.  But then you could sense how they curb their own feelings (as irrelevant) and go back to the scripted positions of their governments which are simply antagonistic to anything that is not 100% in support of Zionism. Erekat’s occasional threats of a one state seem vacuous and not serious.  My book on Sharing the Land of Canaan showed with lots of data that “two state for two people” approach can never lead to genuine peace (if apartheid was the problem in South Africa, why is it considered a solution here?).


I have a suggestion for the Palestinian authority: try to deal with the
issues and do release your own documents instead of trying to shoot the
messenger.  Take lemons to make lemonade.  Help introduce an even stronger resolution at the UN security council (e.g. in support of the Goldstone report or to recognize a Palestinian state along the borders of 1967) or a resolution at the UN General Assembly that calls for expelling Israel from the UN since it has never honored its commitments when it was admitted in 1949.  Maybe announce publicly that the Oslo Process was a mistake or at least is now dead (now every idiot knows it was and most of those who are getting salaries from the authority know in their hearts that it was contrary to basic human rights and to basic international law). This
suggestion essentially is to show courage and backbone.  It could also mean the difference: making mistakes is human, continuing the path as in the past only validates those who accuse the authority figures of treason.  Abbas says he will surprise us in September but I believe he and those around him do not have that kind of time.


I, like Edward Said and millions of Palestinians, disagreed strongly with
the choices made by this Oslo group to built the Palestinian autonomous
administration (of the Palestinian people warehouses or concentration camps) that relieved Israel from the burdens of managing us and from International isolation based on not even promises of freedom or return of rights.  But I also can’t help but feel sorry for those who took that path. It must be very painful for a human being to go down a tunnel where there is no possibility of a light at the end and during this trip into the depths of darkness feel the leaches crawling up his back sucking his blood and voices from behind calling him back (some of them his political enemies, others ex-comrades in Fatah). Palestinian negotiators are fearful of going back because they think it might give political opponents a PR tool. They are just fearful of losing face; I am always grateful to a wise advisor who 30 years ago convinced me to drop this fear of admitting mistakes (a fear common especially among men). They may also be fearful of losing a job. The Palestinian people are very angry though many feel afraid to speak out for fear to lose their sources of income, fear that the alternative to Fatah maybe just as bad, fear of Israel, fear of the US or just simply fear of their own power.  But ultimately fear is a lack of self-confidence to take another course. And their fear should be balanced by the fact that people are literally dying for justice and wanting leaders to care about them and not about themselves. [Here we must remember the thousands of martyrs who gave their lives and hundreds of thousands who were injured or lost homes and livelihood and still yearn for freedom]. The status quo is to many humans a comfort in the known/predictable.  Taking another path is feared because humans fear the unknown.  I believe that fear is the most destructive and paralyzing human emotion.  Common people around
the world are just beginning to break the barrier of fear and speak up more for themselves. From Tunisia to Egypt to Lebanon, the walls of fear are cracking.  We common people and even some leaders must  realize that many of these walls are far weaker than we may think.  I can actually hear them cracking.


The Arab world is in revolt.  The fire is spreading.  Responsible people
need to step forward with courage and conviction.  There could be surprises along those lines even from Central Committee members of Fatah.  Already Nabil Shaath took a position different than Mahmoud Abbas.  This is just the beginning.  Palestine will survive.  The Palestinian people are not sheep. They are mature enough to take the truth and to rebuild our national liberation movement.  History marches on and I am 100% sure that Zionism will fail and Palestine will be free.



Palestinian Students take over Palestine London offices demanding
representation of all Palestinians.  I think their call for representation
based on the Prisoner’s documents and the Cairo Declaration) should be
taken-up by all Palestinians of conscience.



A Call to the People and Governments of the Free World from the Egyptian
National Coalition: We call upon all of you to support the Egyptian people’s
demands for a good life, liberty and an end of despotism. We call upon you
to urge this dictatorial regime to stop its bloodshed of the Egyptian
people, exercised throughout Egyptian cities.. We believe that the material
and moral support offered to the Egyptian regime, by the American government and European governments, has helped to suppress the Egyptian people.  We hereby call upon the people of the free world to support the Egyptian people’s non-violent revolution against corruption and tyranny. We also call upon civil society organizations in America, Europe and the whole world to express their solidarity with Egypt, through holding public demonstrations, particularly on People’s Anger Day (28/01/2011), and by denouncing the use of violence against the people. We hope that you will all support our demands for freedom, justice and peaceful change.

The Guardian Newspaper: Palestinian distrust of Iran revealed in leaked
papers. Mahmoud Abbas asked businessman to donate $50m to Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad’s opponents, according to the documents.



Media Matters M.J. Rosenberg stated about the Papers: “The bottom line is
that, despite the assurances the Palestinian Authority gave to the
Palestinian people that it was driving a hard bargain with the Israelis, the
Palestinian Authority accepted Israel’s position on every key point:
borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees.  On no major issue did the PA
hold the line. None. The Palestinians offered Israel everything Israel wants
and Israel still said “no” with the backing of the United States.”


It is interesting to see such analysis as from former top CIA official
Robert Grenier.


But even though career diplomats are voicing interesting opinions and
diversions from official policy, the Obama administration still shows the
notion of just drawing on AIPAC associated fossilized brains. (see
Why Obama’s “new thinking” initiative on Middle East peace is doomed to fail by Lawrence Davidson )


Palestinian intellectuals and activists articulated why this is the end of
the charade of the peace process industry Karma Nabulsi gives a pointed

Prof. Saree Makdisi shows more emotion as he writes “The Palestinian people betrayed”

Yet another BDS victory: John Lewis stops stocking Ahava products in Britain






Furious reaction to Al-Jazeera documents

Revelations contained in Palestinian documents leaked to the television channel Al-Jazeera this week left Palestinian negotiators with much explaining to do, writes Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah


The Palestinian Authority (PA) reacted with shock and fury to revelations made by the Arab satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera this week that it had received leaked documents showing that Palestinian negotiators had been ready to make far-reaching concessions to Israel on cardinal issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including Jerusalem and the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees.

The seemingly authentic documents, on which PA negotiators’ signatures can be seen, largely consist of the minutes of meetings held between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. American officials and mediators also took part in some of these meetings.

The documents show Palestinian negotiators as having been willing to cede large parts of East Jerusalem to Israel, including most if not all the colonies built in the Jerusalem region east of the former armistice line since 1967.

The PA is also shown as having been ready effectively to liquidate the paramount right of return of Palestinian refugees by entertaining ideas that proposed the repatriation of a negligible number of refugees to their original homeland in what is now Israel.

Similarly, the documents, now dubbed the “Palestinian Papers”, show a clear PA propensity to cooperate and occasionally even to collaborate with Israel against the Islamist group Hamas, especially during the all-out Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip nearly two years ago.

While the papers contain very few real secrets, as details of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since the Oslo Accords of 1992 are widely known among journalists and academics, this is the first time it has become known that the PA had been willing to abandon, or at least evade, long-held Palestinian national constants that had come to form the closest thing to a Palestinian consensus.

These constants enjoy general acceptance by all the Palestinian political factions, including Hamas and Fatah, the two largest political movements in occupied Palestine.

It is not yet certain who leaked the documents to Al-Jazeera. Some Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) officials allege that an insider from the PLO negotiations department leaked them for mercenary reasons, while others accuse the hawkish Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of deliberately leaking the documents in order to embarrass and therefore weaken the PA leadership in the hope of blackmailing it into further concessions.

Whatever the identity of the leakers turns out to be, the leaks are unlikely to be very consequential, given the known positions of both sides.

PA officials reacted angrily to the revelations, accusing Al-Jazeera of attempting to carry out a character assassination of the PA and tarnish its image. One PA official went as far as to charge that the Qatar-based network had “declared war” on the PA and was working with Israel to undermine the Palestinian cause.

Some Fatah supporters tried to storm Al-Jazeera’s offices in Ramallah but were dispersed by police.

Many Palestinians among the more educated segments of the population have scoffed at the near hysterical manner in which PA officials have received the revelations, judging that there is no smoke without fire.

PA chief negotiator Saeb Ereikat, who appeared on Al-Jazeera as the network was broadcasting its report on the documents, seemed unprepared and shaken by the revelations, even losing his composure when responding to questions about documents bearing his signature.

The following day, the PA instructed Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary-general of the PLO, to launch a scathing attack on Al-Jazeera and Qatar, including the country’s emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

Abed Rabbo said that Qatar was in no position to lecture the Palestinian people and its leadership on patriotism, adding that the existence of a large American military base in Qatar, as well as the emirate’s relations with Iran and its support for “sectarian forces” (a possible allusion to Hizbullah), made Qatar unfit to tell Palestinians what they should think or do.

However, Abed Rabbo’s remarks appeared to be off the subject at hand, as he refused to discuss the serious aberrations from the declared Palestinian stance that appear in the documents.

“Some of these remarks were jokes and human reflexes that were not meant to be formal positions,” said an angry-looking Abed Rabbo.

“I must also thank his highness the emir of Qatar for his promoting the issue of transparency in the hope that he will now expand it to include the American military base in Qatar, especially its role in spying on the Arab nations.”

The most moderate reaction came from PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who described the negotiation documents as “nothing new.”

“I don’t know how Al-Jazeera obtained all these ‘secrets’, because there is nothing secret about the negotiations with Israel. Everything we do with regard to the negotiations we inform our Arab brothers and [Arab League Secretary-General] Amr Moussa about,” Abbas told reporters in Cairo.

Nonetheless, Abbas seemed to have decided to take measures against Al-Jazeera. Fatah sources said a circular had been sent to all Fatah members instructing them to boycott the channel.

A few hours later, Nabil Shaath, a high-ranking Fatah official, appeared on the network, saying that Al-Jazeera should not attempt to make an issue out of every word or observation appearing in the documents.

“It was agreed from the very beginning that nothing is finished until everything is finished. So what is written in these documents has no practical value,” Shaath said.

Shaath was silent, however, when interrupted by one of Al-Jazeera’s presenters, who argued that the observations appearing in the documents showed at least a propensity on the part of PA negotiators to compromise on paramount issues related to Palestinian rights, such as Jerusalem and the right of return for the refugees.

As expected, Hamas also castigated the PA for “hiding the truth from the Palestinian people and for showing a willingness to sell out on inalienable Palestinian rights.”

“We consider these documents to be further evidence of the security and political decadence to which the PA has stooped,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “The documents show that the PA is not to be trusted in leading the Palestinian people towards freedom and liberation.”

Another Islamist spokesman, Mahmoud Zahar, called on Arab populations to take to the streets to declare their rejection of PA “treachery and capitulation.”

While the bombshell of the papers may undermine overall Palestinian standing, some pundits have argued that Al-Jazeera’s revelations may also have a long-term positive effect.

They argue that Palestinian negotiators will think twice from now on before ceding to Israel on sensitive matters such as Jerusalem and the refugees, knowing the angry reactions to any capitulations to Israel.





The Palestine Preventive Security Forces interrogates Khalid Amayreh and Awadh Rfajoub

The Palestinian journalists  Khalid Amayreh and Awadh Rajoub were briefly interrogated by the Preventive Security Force in Dura, south of Hebron, Thursday, in connection with their coverage of al-Jazeera documents revelations.

Amayreh said  he was interrogated for several  hours and was asked to return to the PSF  local headquarters again on Sunday, ostensibly for  further interrogation.

He described the interrogation as utterly illegal. He also urged the Palestinian Press union to do its utmost to prevent security agencies from  interfering with journalists’  work.


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