While the ‘Palestine Papers’ are taken as truth to condemn Israel as a
hard-hearted warmonger uninterested in peace, the whole affair can be summed up
like this: The world is judging and condemning Israel on the basis of incomplete
notes taken by Palestinian Authority junior staffers, many of whom are not
fluent English-speakers (writing down statements made by people who are not
native English speakers ) and who are passionate partisans of the Palestinian
The documents have not been authenticated by anyone; they leave
out the concessions made by Israel in the talks, and are filtered through the
pro-Hamas, anti- Israel, anti-Palestinian Authority Al-Jazeera (whose record of
reportage is marked by some amazing distortions and omissions) and the
anti-Israel, Hamas-sympathetic, anti-PA Guardian.
They then misinterpret
them in ways that seem deliberately intended to make Israel and the PA look bad,
and they are quoted by journalists around the world who know little or nothing
about the issues, haven’t read the documents, have never seriously considered
the possibility that they aren’t 100 percent accurate, and ignore every other
previous negotiation and public statement by Israel and the PA that contradict
the claims being made, and who then add on even more claims that are neither in
the documents nor in Al-Jazeera and The Guardian.
information has been left out in this lynchmob atmosphere? To begin with, there
have been Israel’s persistent offers of peace beginning with its 1948
Declaration of Independence and stretching over many years and through many
There was the Egypt-Israel peace treaty of 1979, and the
agreement offering Palestinians self-determination through
There were the withdrawals from Sinai, southern Lebanon, large
parts of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip.
There was also the 1993
agreement with the PLO, in which Israel froze the creation of any new
settlements, allowed tens of thousands of Palestinians to come in, permitted the
establishment of armed PA security groups (many of which turned their guns
against it), supported the PA receiving aid and payments to it and made
increasingly forthcoming offers of peace deals. This culminated in the 2000 Camp
David meeting in which Yasser Arafat refused to negotiate on the basis of a
two-state solution, down to prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer that included
even more concessions. As a result of these risks taken for peace, several
thousand Israelis died at the hands of terrorists.
Also left out is the
Israeli political context. At the time of the meetings in question, Olmert and
former foreign minister Tzipi Livni were desperate. Their government was
gradually collapsing, and they knew that only dramatic progress toward peace
would save them. Never in the country’s history has a government been so
strongly motivated to reach a deal, even at the cost of the most far-reaching
Why, then, would it just walk away after allegedly receiving
such as generous Palestinian offer? Moreover, does it seem likely that Livni is,
as presented in this coverage, a foe of international law and in favor of
expelling Palestinian villagers from their homes? NOT A single statement – not
only in public but in any private meeting that has ever surfaced – of PA leaders
matches the positions they supposedly took in the meetings. It is hard for
outsiders to imagine how passionately they hold to the demand for a “right of
return” for all Palestinians who ever lived, or are descended from those who
lived, on the pre-1948 territory of Israel.
Abbas has long been known to
be personally dedicated to this point.
To claim that PA leaders dropped
this demand without getting anything in return is to disregard the
According to Olmert, what happened was that Abbas never endorsed
the proposed deal or even responded to him after these discussions. In other
words, it wasn’t Israel that rejected a deal but the PA. And, despite the spin
put on it by the media, there is no evidence in the documents to the
Even the PA offer alleged in the documents only dealt with two
of Israel’s concerns – the borders of east Jerusalem and the refugee issue – and
not with ending the conflict, security guarantees or its recognition as a Jewish
state (in exchange for recognizing Palestine as an Arab state).
TODAY are starting to parallel the discourse of medieval anti-Jewish blood
libels. Why? Because the fantastic nature of the unproven claims and the
acceptance of some of the most fanatical haters of this people as sources has
been no barrier to accusing Israelis of war crimes, of murdering children and of
Indeed, this new version is worse than the blood libel,
since in the traditional case the murders were done to fulfill an alleged
religious obligation, while now they are supposedly committed just for fun or
out of pure malice.
The old story being repeated is an eagerness to
believe that the Jews are evil and criminal, even when logic and evidence show
the accusations to be baseless.
That is anti-Semitism, whether it is
expressed in terms of religion, race or – as it is today – national existence.
And it is equally true whether expressed in the language of theological
fanaticism, racist ravings or alleged concern for human rights while giving aid
to the worst totalitarian forces.
FINALLY, I must say some kind words
about the PA leaders and negotiators. I have often criticized them and pointed
out that they will not and cannot (given their political context) make
comprehensive peace with Israel. The Palestine Papers, even if true, prove that
assertion. Either they were ready to make big concessions but could not deliver,
since there would be a revolt once these became public, or they are innocent
victims of pro-Hamas attacks.
Either way, they could never have delivered
on such commitments.
Knowing this, they never would have made such
offers; no one was more aware of that reality than they.
This group –
Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Saeb Erakat and a few others – are moderates
in the Palestinian context. Most of them may not be men of peace, but neither
are they men of war.
They understand that decades more spent in struggle
and bloodshed will not benefit their people.
They know what Arafat did to
hurt the Palestinians and ensure that they did not get a state. They doubt their
movement’s ability to wipe Israel off the map. They do not want a radical
Islamist state, or thousands more people to die unnecessarily.
are seeing here, then, has been the bane of Arab politics since the 1930s: the
triumph of radicals over moderates. The radical Arab nationalists wiped out the
old moderate politicians and parliamentary regimes. The fate of moderates has
repeatedly been assassination: the Palestinians Fakhri Nashashibi and Issam
Sartawi, King Abdullah of Jordan, the Lebanese Riyad al-Sulh and Rafik Hariri,
Egyptian Anwar Sadat and so many others.
Now, in an orgy of madness, the
West has secured a revolutionary Islamist state in the Gaza Strip, stood by
passively while Hizbullah seized control of Lebanon, and even cheered as
concealed Islamists rule Turkey and chip away at freedom there. And these are
the people who dare lecture Israel on the strategy it should follow? Equally,
Western officials, intellectuals and journalists fail to realize that the
Palestine Papers are the death knell for any peace process. What Palestinian
leader would dare make the smallest concession now, or for many years to come?
What Israeli leader will make big concessions or take risks, knowing how past
ones only increased slanders, terrorism and the confidence of those who seek to
commit genocide against this country? By empowering the extremists, showing
hostility and unreliability to Israel and now helping to undercut the
Palestinian moderates, Western democracies have made happen precisely the
opposite of what they intended. Worst of all, they still don’t understand what
damage they have brought on us all.
One can only hope they awaken before
the entire Middle East is put into a nightmarish sleep.The writer is
director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and editor of
Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal and
Turkish Studies. He
blogs at www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.