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January 27, 2011

EDITOR: Will Erekat decide what his position is about the Palestine Papers?

On Tuesday, Erekat and Abbas called the Palestine Papers ‘a pack of lies’. Today they seem to admit it was them who were lying. Like their friends, the Israeli government, they first shout ‘a pack of lies’, then admit unwillingly they lied themselves. Today Erekat was singing another tune altogether, in his guardian piece, below. Today he had this to say about the papers:

“What should be taken from these documents is that Palestinian negotiators have consistently come to the table in complete seriousness and in good faith, and that we have only been met by rejection on the other end,” he writes. “Conventional wisdom, supported by the press, has allowed Israel to promote the idea that it has always lacked a partner. If it has not been before, it should now be painfully obvious that the very opposite is true. It is Palestinians who have lacked, and who continue to lack, a serious partner for peace.”

So, Mr. Erekat, please tell the confused readers: If the papers are a pack of lies, how are we supposed to learn all this from them? They are the ones, who, like their partners the Israelis, have told a pack of lies. What can be easily learnt from the papers, is that Erekat, Abbas and their many henchmen have lied to their own people for decades.

The Palestine Papers Part 4

Palestinian negotiator rejects claims of back door deals with Israel: The Guardian

PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says leaked documents show how passionately Palestinians want peace
Saeb Erekat says the leaked papers show how far Palestinians are willing to go to reach a settlement. Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters
The PLO’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, has described the leak of confidential memos documenting a decade of Middle East peace talks as a “slander campaign” and insisted that no single concession will be agreed without a comprehensive agreement with Israel, whose colonisation of Palestinian land is the “only constant”.

Writing in today’s Guardian, Erekat rebuffs accusations that he has been involved in “backdoor dealings” with Israel, but fails to repeat his previous claim that the documents – obtained by Al-Jazeera TV and shared with the Guardian – are “a pack of lies”.

He says the lesson that should be drawn from the documents is that the Palestinians are serious about peace.

“What should be taken from these documents is that Palestinian negotiators have consistently come to the table in complete seriousness and in good faith, and that we have only been met by rejection on the other end,” he writes. “Conventional wisdom, supported by the press, has allowed Israel to promote the idea that it has always lacked a partner. If it has not been before, it should now be painfully obvious that the very opposite is true. It is Palestinians who have lacked, and who continue to lack, a serious partner for peace.”

He underlines that any solution agreed in negotiations must pass a Palestinian national referendum – though the documents reveal him admitting that it will not be possible to hold a vote outside the West Bank and Gaza, which would leave millions of refugees in Jordan and Lebanon unable to take part.

Evidence from the papers shows Palestinian negotiators agreed privately in 2008 to let Israel annex all but one of the settlements built illegally in East Jerusalem and accepted the return of a symbolic number of 10,000 refugees to Israel. “Nothing would be agreed,” Erekat writes, “until everything is agreed”.

The papers also show the PLO working closely with Israeli security forces to target Hamas and other militants.

Publication of the Palestine papers has generated angry reactions from Palestinians, especially the PLO’s Islamist rival Hamas, which advocates armed resistance and will only negotiate with Israel on a long-term ceasefire.

The latest revelations show Tony Blair, envoy for the Quartet, was perceived by PA officials to have a pro-Israel stance and to advocate “an apartheid-like approach to dealing with the occupied West Bank”. A spokesman for Blair said today: “There has been real change on the ground as a result of Tony Blair’s efforts. The economy is now flourishing in the West Bank with double digit growth and falling unemployment. Palestinians are now able to move in the West Bank in ways impossible when Tony Blair started pushing for changes in the access and movement regime.”

Other papers describe how the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, tried to persuade a Palestinian businessman to contribute millions of dollars to a radio station for the Iranian opposition after the country’s presidential elections in 2009.

Abbas’s move was cited by Erekat in a meeting with the US Middle East envoy George Mitchell as evidence of the PA’s support for US goals in the region, especially its attempts to counter the influence of Iran, which finances Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The Palestinian people betrayed: LA Times

Palestinian Israeli peace process: Leaked Palestinian documents damaging to peace process
The leaked papers published by Al Jazeera show how craven Palestinian leaders are and how willing they were to sell out their people’s rights. Yet all they had to offer wasn’t enough for Israel.
By By Saree Makdisi
A massive archive of documents leaked to Al Jazeera and Britain’s Guardian newspaper offers irrefutable proof that years of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have been an empty sham. The papers make clear that the time has come for Palestinians and anyone interested in the cause of justice to abandon the charade of official diplomacy and pursue other, more creative and nonviolent paths toward the realization of a genuine, just peace.

The leaked documents, assuming they are genuine — and both Al Jazeera and the Guardian say they have authenticated them — are behind-the-scenes notes from a decade of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. On issue after issue, they show Palestinian negotiators eager to concede ground, offering to give up much of Jerusalem, to accept Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank, to collaborate with Israeli occupation forces in suppressing dissent in the occupied territories — including killing fellow Palestinians — and even to forgo the right of return for most Palestinians driven from their homes by Israel in 1948.

The papers give the lie to Israel’s claim that it yearns for peace but lacks a Palestinian “partner.” And they reinforce the sense that Israel has gone along with these negotiations only to buy time to expropriate more Palestinian land, demolish more Palestinian homes, expel more Palestinian families and build more colonies for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers in militarily occupied territory, thereby cementing new realities on the ground that would make a Palestinian state a geophysical impossibility.

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Anyone who doubts this has only to skim through the leaked papers, which show Israel spurning one gaping Palestinian concession after another. And this was Israel not under Benjamin Netanyahu but under the supposedly more liberal Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who claimed they were committed to the peace process. In shameless abjection, the Palestinian negotiators prostrated themselves and surrendered essentially every major objective for which their people have struggled and sacrificed for 60 years, only for the imperious Israelis to say again and again, no, no, no.

Clearly, all that the Palestinians have to offer is not enough for Israel.

The major revelation from the documents, indeed, is the illustration they furnish of just how far the Palestinian negotiators were willing to go to placate Israel.

Men like Saeb Erekat, Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei — the lead Palestinian negotiators in all these years — are of a type that has come forth in every colonial conflict of the modern age. Faced with the overwhelming brute power with which colonial states have always sought to break the will of indigenous peoples, they inhabit the craven weakness that the situation seems to dictate. Convinced that colonialism cannot be defeated, they seek to carve out some petty managerial role within it from which they might benefit, even if at the expense of their people.

These men, we must remember, were not elected to negotiate an agreement with Israel. They have no legitimacy, offer zero credibility and can make no real claim to represent the views of Palestinians.

And yet they were apparently willing to bargain away the right that stands at the very heart of the Palestinian struggle, a right that is not theirs to surrender — the right of return of Palestinians to the homes from which they were forced during the creation of Israel in 1948 — by accepting Israel’s insistence that only a token few thousand refugees should be allowed to return, and that the millions of others should simply go away (or, as we now learn that the U.S. suggested, accept being shipped away like so much lost chattel to South America).

The documents also show Palestinian negotiators willing to betray the Palestinians inside Israel by agreeing to Israel’s definition of itself as a Jewish state, knowing that that would doom Israel’s non-Jewish Palestinian minority — the reviled “Israeli Arabs” who constitute 20% of the state’s population — not merely to the institutionalized racism they already face but to the prospect of further ethnic cleansing (the papers reveal that Livni repeatedly raised the idea that land inhabited by portions of Israel’s Palestinian population should be “transferred” to a future Palestinian state).

All this was offered in pursuit of a “state” that would exist in bits and pieces, with no true sovereignty, no control over its own borders or water or airspace — albeit a “state” that it would, naturally, be their job to run.

And all this was contemptuously turned down by the allegedly peace-seeking Israeli government, with the connivance of the United States, to whom the Palestinians kept plaintively appealing as an honest broker, even as it became clearer than ever that it is anything but.

What these documents prove is that diplomatic negotiations between abject Palestinians and recalcitrant Israelis enjoying the unlimited and unquestioning support of the U.S. will never yield peace. No agreement these callow men sign would be accepted by the Palestinian people.

Fortunately, most Palestinians are not as broken and hopeless as these so-called leaders. Every single day, millions of ordinary Palestinian men, women and children resist the dictates of Israeli power, if only by refusing to give up and go away — by going to school, by farming their crops, by tending their olive groves.

Refusing the dictates of brute power and realpolitik to which their so-called leaders have surrendered, the Palestinian people have already developed a new strategy that, turning the tables on Israel, transmutes every Israeli strength into a form of weakness. Faced with tanks, they turn to symbolic forms of protest that cannot be destroyed; faced with brutality, they demand justice; faced with apartheid, they demand equality. The Palestinians have learned the lessons of Soweto, and they have unleashed a simultaneously local and global campaign of protests and calls for boycotts and sanctions that offers the only hope of bringing Israelis — like their Afrikaner predecessors — to their senses.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA. He is the author of, among other books, “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.”

EDITOR: Erekat calls the kettle black…

In between working on bringing down the Iranian regime, and preparing a birthday cake for Zippy Livni, Erekat has found the time to look for the real crminals – those who have leaked the documents to the Guardian and Al Jazeera…

Palestine papers: Erekat asks US, UK and France for help to find leaker: The Guardian

Senior Palestinian negotiator says he wants ex-British spy, US journalist and French national to appear before inquiry

Effigies with Israeli flags and images of Mahmoud Abbas are burned in a Hamas-led protest in Gaza. Photograph: Eyad Baba/AP
A senior Palestinian official today said he has asked the US, Britain and France to help bring three of their nationals for questioning about the huge leak of confidential documents relating to peace talks in the Middle East.

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the three include a former British intelligence officer, a US employee of al-Jazeera TV and a French citizen. He said he is not accusing them of wrongdoing, but would like them to appear before an investigative committee.

Al-Jazeera this week published excerpts from what it said is a cache of hundreds of documents covering a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Qatar-based Arab satellite station, widely watched in the Arab world, alleges that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, secretly made major concessions to Israel.

Abbas and his aides say they are victims of a smear campaign.

The leaks have intensified the bitter rivalry between Abbas and Hamas, the Islamic militant group which wrested the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian president in a violent takeover in 2007.

Yesterday, thousands marched in Gaza in Hamas-led protests, accusing Abbas of being a traitor and burning him in effigy.

Today, hundreds rallied in Gaza City, burning a photo of Abbas and raising a large picture of al-Jazeera’s benefactor, the emir of Qatar.

Salah Bardawil, a Hamas legislator, told the crowd that “those traitors and anyone who is thinking of compromising any of our rights” should be put on trial.

In the West Bank, several thousand Fatah supporters chanted slogans against al-Jazeera and in support of Abbas. They also burned photos of two senior Hamas leaders.

Erekat, who frequently meets with Israeli and US officials, features in many of the documents. Palestinian officials have said they believe the documents were leaked by someone in a department he heads, the negotiations support unit.

Erekat told the Associated Press today that the investigation into the leaks is still continuing.

Erekat said he has tried to contact the US citizen, but to no avail. “I am not accusing him of anything. We want to investigate him,” he said, adding that he had contacted US diplomats for assistance.

Al-Jazeera officials have been unavailable for comment throughout the week. The French national declined comment when contacted by AP, and the former British intelligence officer said he might discuss the issue at a later time.

Many of the leaked documents detail 2008 negotiations between Abbas and Israel’s leader at the time, Ehud Olmert. Those talks were cut short by Israel’s three-week war on Hamas-ruled Gaza, launched in late 2008, and mounting corruption allegations against Olmert that eventually forced him out of office.

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