Palestine Papers: The PA and the Jewish State

February 21, 2011


Disclosures by Al Jazeera from the Palestine Papers have confirmed what supporters and critics alike have known about the Palestinian Authority for some time. Even if PA negotiators are willing in principle to limited territorial compromise on the pre-1967 border (if only in private negotiations), they are opposed to the characterization of Israel as a “Jewish State.”

Regular observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will note that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has become as much of a sticking point for Israelis in negotiations as settlements and refugees have been for the PA. While Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu has not made such formal recognition a precondition for talks, he and many others believe that the unwillingness of the PA to recognize a Jewish state is a continued indication that it rejects the legitimacy of Israel itself.

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Polls: Israeli Public Opinion on Land and Population Swaps for Peace

January 30, 2011


Many questions have been raised in the last week about the so-called Palestine Papers leaked to Al Jazeera and the Guardian newspaper. The collection of over 16,000 seemingly official documents purportedly reveal salient details of meetings, emails, and other communications between Israeli, Palestinian, and American negotiators between 2000 and 2010.

Most commentators have focused on the concessions the Palestinian Authority supposedly offered to the Israelis to secure a peace settlement. Significantly less attention has been paid to what Israeli diplomats in these meetings are recorded as considering or offering. One of the most interesting observations in this respect was a proposal by Tzipi Livni in 2008 to transfer the Israeli Arab towns of Barta’a, Baka al-Garbiyeh, and Beit Safafa, situated along the Green Line, to Palestinian control. This approach, which has been publically disallowed by Kadima, has notable similarities with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s peace plan.

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Palestine Papers?

January 24, 2011


The biggest news out of the Middle East this morning is courtesy of the Guardian and Al Jazeera: The Palestine Papers. They have just published parts of some 16,076 documents which the news services claim are leaked confidential records from Palestinian Authority sources of meetings, emails, and other communications between Israeli, Palestinian, and American negotiators between 2000 and 2010. The documents apparently reveal that in negotiations the Palestinian Authority had proposed to recognize Israeli annexation of most Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, turn supervision of the Temple Mount over to an international committee, and to limit Palestinian refugee returns to Israel to 10,000 over ten years.

Palestinian Authority representatives rushed to deny the leaks with chief negotiator Saeb Erekat calling them “a pack of lies” and Mahmoud Abbas wondering aloud where Al Jazeera could have even obtained such documents. These two, of course, figure prominently in the reports with Erekat himself quoted as saying the PA was offering Israel “the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history.” Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei also makes numerous appearances. Meanwhile, voices in Hamas have seized the opportunity to accuse the PA of “cooperation with the occupation” while at least one Palestinian political analyst has accused Saeb Erekat of treason.

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