THE PALESTINE PAPERS
Al Jazeera and the Guardian UK are all over the release today, Sunday January 23, 2011, of the first of almost 1700 diplomatic cable leaks pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and so far everything smacks of subservience, arrogance and connivance on the part of, respectively, the three main actors who are play-acting at resolving the decades old conflict: the Palestinian Authority, the Israelis and the American government. We are reminded of three scorpions in a bottle, or maybe that should be two spiders and a fly on a web, with the Palestinian Authority reprising the role of the fly in the Vincent Price thriller of the same name (remember this?). It is doubtful whether the Palestinian Authority can survive all these revelations as the Palestinian people and larger Muslim world learn about them, in particular the cavalier attitude with which the Palestinian Authority was willing to negotiate on the sovereignty of the Haram ash-Sharif in Jerusalem (the Temple Mount) , which is a bit like the mayor of Rome trying to sell the Vatican to a contractor who wants to build condos and a Freemason temple on top of the torn-down site.
Because Al Jazeera is the primary recipient of all these leaks and is sharing them with the Guardian, I am going to provide some excerpts from the Al Jazeera website exposing this tawdry treasure trove of documents, but really, you, the reader need to go online and check out the entire webpage for these first revelations, including analysis by their pundits.
From Al Jazeera:
The material is voluminous and detailed; it provides an unprecedented look inside the continuing negotiations involving high-level American, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials.
Al Jazeera will release the documents between January 23-26th, 2011. They will reveal new details about:
- the Palestinian Authority's willingness to concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, and to be "creative" about the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount;
- the compromises the Palestinian Authority was prepared to make on refugees and the right of return;
- details of the PA's security cooperation with Israel;
- and private exchanges between Palestinian and American negotiators in late 2009, when the Goldstone Report was being discussed at the United Nations.
Because of the sensitive nature of these documents, Al Jazeera will not reveal the source(s) or detail how they came into our possession. We have taken great care over an extended period of time to assure ourselves of their authenticity.
We believe this material will prove to be of inestimable value to journalists, scholars, historians, policymakers and the general public.
We know that some of what is presented here will prove controversial, but it is our intention to inform, not harm, to spark debate and reflection, not dampen it. Our readers and viewers will note that we have provided a comments section in which to express opinions. In keeping with our editorial policies, we reserve the right to excise comments that we deem inappropriate, but all civil voices will be heard, all opinions respected.
We present these papers as a service to our viewers and readers as a reflection of our fundamental belief that public debate and public policies grow, flourish and endure when given air and light.********
The controversy came last year, when the Jerusalem municipality approved 1,600 new housing tenders while Joe Biden, the US vice-president, was visiting Israel. But construction has yet to begin, and residents of this settlement populated mostly by Orthodox Jews, a group with one of the highest birth rates in Israel say politics are interfering with family life.
"It shouldn't be a question of politics," said Avraham Goldstein, a student waiting at a bus stop in the settlement. "People need to build, they want to have their families nearby. There are more than 18,000 people here. And Ramat Shlomo is obviously part of Jerusalem."
The US responded to the Ramat Shlomo announcement with anger; Biden said it "undermines the kind of trust we need" to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).