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It didn’t take Al-Jazeera long to come up with a local alternative to Wikileaks. Their incendiary release of a small part of the 16,076 documents pertaining to the peace process between the Arabs and Israelis has sent shockwaves in some circles, while others remain calamitously calm. While the named party in the talks seemed to have gone into deep denial, Hamas – rightly, if the documents are to be believed – said the ubiquitous “I told you so.”

In essence, the negotiating Palestinian side has practically given Palestine to the Israelis for nothing more than a paternalistic pat on the head, but even that wasn’t forthcoming. The “gesture” of those offered deep concessions were summarily rejected, further amply demonstrating the weakness of the Arab’s position; the BBC reports that:

The Palestinians are reported to have proposed an international committee to take over Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, and limiting the number of returning refugees to 100,000 over 10 years.


Among the leaked papers, the alleged offers relating to East Jerusalem are the most controversial, as the issue has been a huge stumbling block in Mid-East talks and both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.


According to al-Jazeera, in May 2008 Ahmed Qurei, the lead Palestinian negotiator at the time, proposed that Israel annex all Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem except Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim), in a bid to reach a final deal.

“This is the first time in history that we make such a proposition,” he reportedly said, pointing out that this was a bigger concession than that made at Camp David talks in 2000.

“We are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history,” negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted as saying, using the Hebrew word for Jerusalem.

Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) leaders also privately suggested swapping part of the flashpoint East Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah for land elsewhere, according to the leaks.

In addition, Palestinian negotiators are said to have proposed an international committee to take over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which houses the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s third holiest site.

And they were reported to be willing to discuss limiting the number of Palestinian refugees returning to 100,000 over 10 years.

The leaks also purport to show that Palestinian leaders had been “privately tipped off” about Israel’s 2008-2009 war in Gaza, a claim Mr Abbas has denied in the past.

BBC News · 24.1.11

So now we know. Or at least have a better idea of what goes on behind closed doors, and this forced transparency should also force those who are trusted to be in power to behave with the best interest of their people in mind, or else, they too shall be booted out just like ben Ali and his ilk.

I long to see the day when “reports” are published whose only content is “official A met with official B and discussed issues of mutual concern” and the official media channels would actually report on the content, before, that is, those meetings too become public knowledge through Wikileaks, Aljazeera Transparency Unit or the many other copycats which surely will come about aplenty.

Ironically, transparency actually serves to make officials better professionally and personally.

  • Xylo
    25 January 2011

    Maybe the Palestinian leaders decided this was the best deal they could get from an opponent who is stronger and more militarily competent. After 60 years of a war that has killed more Palestinians than Isrealis, they may have realized it is just not in their people’s best interest to continue the conflict. The West Bank has experienced marked economic improvements recently. Provoking the Israelis into smashing it all up would be disastrous.

  • AbuRasool
    25 January 2011

    Another groups of Quislings to help the Zionist project? You may be interested in what Alistair Crooke take on this.


    • mahmood
      26 January 2011

      Many thanks for the referral AbuRasool.

  • Anonny
    26 January 2011

    @AbuRasool Interesting points, but I think everybody concerned knew each other’s true nature.

  • Shachar
    27 January 2011

    You might be interested in this (I know, horrific automatic translation. Source in Hebrew here).

    This is a blog by a well known Israeli reporter. He’s essentially accusing Al Jazeera of reporting nothing which is new to anyone who has been paying any amount of attention, but introducing it in an anti-PA matter. He’s also saying that he is disappointed in the Israeli media for not picking this point out, but, frankly, I’m surprised by neither.

    This is why I always try to wait a few days before commenting about such disclosures. The truth is rarely the same as what it originally appears, and the players (yes, Israel included, but to a much lesser degree) are not shy of gaming the system.


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