The fog of diplomacy

Wikileaks is infectious. al-Jazeera has caught the bug, and released some 1,600 secret Palestinian documents, said to represent Palestinian-Israeli negotiations over more than a decade of on-again off-again talks.
Some of the details suggest far reaching Palestinian concessions, but others indicate that they were not far reaching enough for Israeli negotiators recently claiming membership in the "peace camp."
The release brought an angry response from a leading Palestinian negotiator. He said that that al-Jazeera was waging war against the Palestinians, and denied that concessions had been made.
This story may grow legs, and we will learn more. At first look, it appears that the documents may reveal the nature of conversations rather than firm offers. An important rule of negotiations is that nothing is done until an agreement is signed and finalized. Back and forth suggestions do not count until each side agrees to what it has gotten and what it is giving up.
At the very least, the leaks will be embarrassing to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. They suggest that prominent figures on each side had been willing to discuss proposals that differed from what they were telling their voters in public.
No surprise. Politicians cannot tell all the truth, even if they may not actually be lying.
Politics continues in both Israel and Palestine. Current pressures and possibilities, including those who are presently in charge, will carry the ball until things change again. Leaks spanning more than a decade will provide much food for the commentators, but maybe not much else.
There is also a confusion on the Israeli side about a proposal seemingly offered by the Foreign Minister, and then substantially downsized by an official Ministry spokesperson.
This concerns some "ideas" expressed by Minister Avigdor Lieberman that were said to include a map of a possible Palestinian state. It may not have been overly generous, but it was something. But now it seems to be less than something.
Adding to our confusion is a comment by Mahmoud Abbas that seems to downsize all the effort he has expended in recent weeks to achieve recognition of a Palestinian state by a growing number of countries. Some of these recognitions have included the Palestinian mantra of 1967 borders and a capital in Jerusalem, and some have been little more than a reaffirmation of recognitions proclaimed years ago in the Arafat era.
Now Abbas is saying that he has no intention of declaring a Palestinian state without the agreement of Israel.
That may be wise, insofar as Israeli cooperation is essential for making the Palestinian state anything more than a figment of diplomatic initiative.
Wisdom aside, it adds to our confusion as to what is happening. Or it makes me think of student body politics. As the bard said, sound and fury signifying nothing.
We can hope that there are the kernels of something substantial and decent in all of this, but it is too early to invite Barack Obama to a signing.
You''ve heard about the fog of war. In the Wikileaks era, we are enjoying--or suffering--the fog of diplomacy.