The biggest leak of confidential documents in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict exposes the role played by the Palestinian leadership in the so-called “peace process,” leaving the government of the Palestinian Authority in deep crisis.
On Sunday, January 23, the Arabic television network Al Jazeera published a series of confidential documents with a methodical register of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process for a decade. The leak of almost 1,700 documents, containing detailed information about the negotiations from high-level US representatives, Israel and the representatives of the Palestinian Authority, and including e-mails, memoranda, maps, minutes of private meetings, transcriptions of meetings, strategy documents and Power Point presentations from the period between 1999 and 2010, exposed the state of negotiations which many people now consider to be “dead.” The papers are, in addition, a proof of the reactionary character of the peace process, that only leads to liquidating the democratic and national aspirations of the Palestinian people.
The documents, or “Palestine Papers,” authenticated by different diplomatic and security sources and by participants in the meetings, confirm the suspicions raised since the Annapolis Conference, sponsored by George W. Bush, about the renunciation by the Palestinian representatives of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, accepting that Israeli settlements in the occupied area of Jerusalem will become part of the State of Israel, together with the Jewish quarter of the Old City, and control over the Esplanade of the Mosques [[It is one of the most disputed religious sites in the world, a sacred religious place of approximately 15 hectares (equivalent to 0.15 kmï¿½), located in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been controlled by Israel since 1967, and both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over it, and it continues to be a hot spot of conflict.]] and over the Wailing Wall.
In addition to the degree of secret concessions offered by the Palestinian negotiators — such as the right of return and the level of cooperation between Israeli security forces and those of the Palestinian Authority — the most heartfelt needs of the Palestinian people — the revelations divulge the central role of British intelligence services in working out a secret plan to crush Hamas in the Palestinian territories, that includes the use of torture and arrests without trial, as well as the high level of secret cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s army and security services.
The annexation of the East Jerusalem settlements constitutes a key topic that had already led to the failure of the Camp David negotiations in the year 2000, and, according to the leaked documents, the proposed annexation was presented in 2008-2009 by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, after the Annapolis Conference, and granted Israel “the biggest Jerusalem in all of history.” In addition, Erekat offered to agree to the return of only 5,000 of the more than 4 million Palestinian refugees. Even so, the Israeli leaders, backed by the US, considered that the proposal was “inadequate” and failed to satisfy their demands, because it did not include larger settlements in the region of Har Homa and others in the West Bank. [[It is worth remembering that, according to international law, all the settlements built in territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war are illegal, although Israel considers them as municipal districts.]]
The most revealing thing, however, is the capitulatory role of the Palestinian negotiators, among them, that of Erekat, who complained to the US because it did not do enough to block the tunnels that run from Egypt up to the Gaza Strip, used for sending aid. Erekat also underestimated Hamas’ control in the region they controlled and demanded of the US that “more be done” to prevent smuggling of weapons and supplies. Among the secret conversations now revealed, is the explicit request from Israel’s Defense Ministry that, as a reprisal, the Palestinian government should see to assassinating Hamas militants.
Although Erekat went out to state that it is “fabricated lies with half-truths” and “slanders” instigated against the Palestinian leaders, he cannot avoid the weakening that the Palestinian Authority is suffering and the political coup that their loss of credibility in front of their Hamas rivals represents.
The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas, has found himself deeply discredited with the revelations, that endanger his hopes of keeping the process open until September 2011, when Palestine should be an independent state, according to Barack Obama.
The published documents highlight the capitulatory role of the Palestinian leadership, once an expression of bourgeois nationalism, and prove their complete bankruptcy and their pro-imperialist character, as they become completely servile actors and lackeys of imperialism, in an open betrayal of the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.
For the almost 4 million Palestinians who live in terrible conditions in refugee camps — both within the occupied territories and beyond them — the revelations came as no surprise. In the area of the Gaza Strip, where, as a result of the blockade there is no access to potable water, medicines, and other essential goods, a mixture of anger, distrust and uncertainty about the future was expressed.
The leak of the documents exposes the reactionary character of the negotiations carried out until now and proves that the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their democratic and national aspirations cannot remain in the hands of condescending leaders, who are servile towards the imperialist policy of the State of Israel, backed by the US.