January 26, 2011

Middle East peace documents leaked


by Jan Harris

1,600 documents detailing the peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel over the past ten years were leaked this week, vividly revealing how the process broke down.

The confidential Palestinian documents, including strategy papers, minutes, e-mails and maps, were obtained by al-Jazeera TV, which released them to the Guardian.

The documents show the huge scale of the concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators, including the offer to concede almost all of East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

There was also a proposal for an international body to be established to control the Haram al-Sharif area, the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest site in Islam.

It was this issue which was largely responsible for the failure of the Camp David talks in 2000.

The documents have been authenticated by the Guardian and corroborated by other source, but Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat initially branded the minutes of meetings as “lies and half truths” while later admitting to the BBC that some of the material was true.

He claims that al-Jazeera TV has put his life in danger by leaking the documents.

The documents are regarded as showing Palestinian Authority leaders as weak and out of touch with reality, US politicians as dismissive towards Palestinian representatives and Israeli negotiators as intransigent.

Israel’s continued rejection of Palestine’s concessions suggests that a two-state solution is unachievable making the likelihood of renewed hostilities a real danger.

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