If these new leaks—inspired, most likely, to take advantage of the “leak-mania” ignited by Wikileaks—about the Palestinian Authority do anything, they demonstrate how corrupt and inept the Palestinian Authority has been, and how deeply dishonest and cruel has been the Israeli narrative of “no peace partner”. Peace, in the Israel-Palestine context, has always meant acceding to the majority of Israeli demands with little in return, and that’s just what the Palestinian Authority has been doing.
The documents show that again and again, Palestine’s leaders went above and beyond the call of duty in their role as client administrators of Palestine. When even Israeli leaders were stymied about how to achieve the total of their claims on lands already occupied by settlers, the PA sat down and put on their thinking caps, such as this brainstorm by Achmad Qurei:
Qurei: Perhaps Ma’ale Adumim will remain under Palestinian sovereignty, and it could be a model for cooperation and coexistence.
Livni: The matter is not simply giving a passport to settlers.
You can almost imagine Qurei adding, “You may say I’m a dreamer, Livni, but I’m not the only one”. As is obvious, there was no angle which the PA was unwilling to turn its supine form to give Israelis the maximum benefit from any resolution to the conflict. Peace offers—that is everything that Israel wants—has never been in short supply from the PA side. The Palestinian Authority was apparently even willing to accept a forced deportation via territorial gerrymandering, of Israeli born Palestinian citizens and a final cessation of the right 0f return.
My own opinion is that the PA big-wigs are incredibly inept. Good at funneling money out of the country, and keeping their lackeys fighting one another over scraps, but they don’t know state-craft from a hole in the ground. In Ramallah, long ago, I was told by various people affiliated within and out of the Negotiation Support Unit, that Fatah leaders were ridiculously unprepared to negotiate under the Oslo Accords. One of the first orders of business was to get the negotiators a detailed map of the occupied territories; because Fatah apparently had no idea what was within and without of the 1967 borders.
But even if the Palestinian Authority had been Eleventh Dimensional Chess Champs, it would have made no difference, as these documents show. Even when the PA gave Israel everything it asked for, they still met the hand—no matter of negotiation brilliance could have achieved a better outcome. As one can see, Israel is prepared to deny all Palestinian overtures into perpetuity, while they continue to put their facts on the ground.
The peace process isn’t about peace, it’s about presenting a smoke-screen to the world while Israel carves up the occupied territories using by-pass roads and incentives for Israelis to live in cul-de-sac communities in Palestine, doubling, tripling their population over time. That much, now, is open to the world to see. Let’s see where that goes.
Jonathan Freedland has a good op-ed on the leaks here:
While Fatah predictably rounded up some thugs to pretend to be “on the street” Palestinians and riot at the local Al Jazeera affiliate, the leadership of the PA may not be able to spin this as a pro-Zionist trick by the “treacherous” television station. Fatah has gotten less and less traction out of this tactic for years, as the ever-more sophisticated Palestinian public, with a plethora of satellite and internet news sources has been kept in constant update of their bungling, mundane evil and corrupti0n.
Akiva Eldar at Haaretz today, while viewing the pliant Fatah portrayed in the leaks as a positive characterization, says:
The leaked documents completely discredit the claim that there is “no peace partner” made by the leader of the newly formed Atzmaut faction, Ehud Barak, and his boss, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The documents are testimony that the Palestinians are willing to go the distance for peace: They will relinquish their claims on the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, the Etzion settlement bloc and the settlements along the Green Line. This would all be in return for territories on the western side of this line, including the region of Gilboa and Mount Hebron.