WASHINGTON – The US State Department acknowledged Monday that the “Palestine
Papers,” released by Al-Jazeera, complicated American efforts to forge an
Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. But it said it wouldn’t slow the Obama
administration’s work toward that goal.
“We don’t deny that this release
will, at least for a time, make the situation more difficult than it already
was,” US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said of the 1,600
confidential documents Al- Jazeera said it had obtained.RELATED:Abbas: We can't expect Israel to take in a million refugeesAnalysis: Al-Jazeera’s show trial could bring down PA leadershipPA suspects employees leaked documents to Al-Jazeera
The documents –
which outline Palestinian willingness to make concessions on Jerusalem and other
final status issues – are said to be from the period of negotiations between
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and former prime minister Ehud
Abbas and other Palestinian officials have challenged the
veracity of some of the documents.
Crowley noted that the documents
weren’t American and therefore couldn’t be verified by the US. However, he added
that they would have an effect on the political challenges of resolving the
conflict “regardless of whether one document is accurate, and one is
Still, he stressed that the United States remained committed to
getting the two parties to enter direct negotiations and reach an
“None of this changes our understanding of what is at stake,
or what needs to be done,” Crowley said. “We continue to believe a framework
agreement is both possible and necessary. We continue to work with and engage
US officials have spoken extensively to Palestinian and
Israeli officials in the past day, according to Crowley, who said their
conversations dealt largely with preparing to move forward with next week’s
He said the recent document leak was only one further
sign of the obstacles that lay ahead.
“We’ve always been clear-eyed about
this,” Crowley said. “We knew it would be a difficult challenge, and it doesn’t
change the ultimate objective.”
Progressive American Jewish groups seized
on the document leaks to push Israel and the Obama administration for more
active engagement with the Palestinians.
“These documents – if authentic
– highlight a reality that peace process cynics have long sought to deny: Israel
has a far-more real ‘partner’ than it has ever been willing to admit. The
documents underscore the fact that, sadly, Israel has not capitalized on the
opportunity for peace this partner represents,” said a statement from Americans
for Peace Now.
“The documents also highlight an uncomfortable truth about
the US role in the past decade of peace efforts,” the statement
“The US has not demonstrated real leadership – failing to hold
the parties accountable for obstinacy, intransigence, and
Instead, the group said, “The Obama administration must
take dramatic, decisive action to create a new negotiating
According to J Street executive director Jeremy Ben- Ami, “We
now know from the Palestinian papers released over the weekend by Al-Jazeera
that the Palestinian leadership is ready to make painful concessions to achieve
a two-state solution.”
He added, however, that the prospects for such a
solution had grown dimmer since those negotiations took place.
both publicly – and now from these documents, privately – the ongoing
intransigence of the Israeli government,” Ben- Ami said. “Only bold American
leadership can lead to the resolution of this conflict, and we urge the
president to act now before it is too late.”
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