'PA agreed to Israeli annexation of J'lem areas'

Records show Palestinian side of peace talks: Erekat offered "biggest J'lem in history" and minimal right of return; PA leaders suggest one-state solution.

Mitchell Erekat 311 AP (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mitchell Erekat 311 AP
(photo credit: Associated Press)
With the Palestinian Authority making an international incident over every plan to build in Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, a cache of some 1,600 documents – mostly from the Palestinian Negotiating Unit – shows that in 2008, the PA was willing to recognize eventual Israeli control over all those neighborhoods, with the exception of Har Homa.
In dramatic fashion, both Al- Jazeera and the Guardian published excerpts Sunday night of what they are calling “The Palestine Papers,” providing details – through the eyes of Palestinians involved in the negotiations – of nearly a decade of talks.
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According to the Guardian, the documents were leaked over a period of months to Al- Jazeera and shared with the British newspaper, which said it had authenticated the bulk of the documents.
According to the paper, the documents, which will be published in the coming days, will show the “scale of Palestinian concessions,” including on Jerusalem and on the issue of refugees; the level of Israeli and Palestinian covert security cooperation; how Israeli leaders “privately asked for some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state”; and how British intelligence played a key role in drawing up a plan to crush Hamas.
In addition, the Guardian reported, the documents – not a part of the WikiLeaks dump of US diplomatic cables – will also show that the PA was tipped off about Operation Cast Lead.
Israeli government sources refrained from reporting on the documents Sunday night, saying they needed to see them first.
According to the paper, the PA privately suggested swapping part of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for land elsewhere.
The paper said Israel had rejected the offer on Jerusalem because the Palestinians had insisted on Ma’aleh Adumim, Har Homa and several other settlements, such as Ariel. The Palestinians did agree to Israeli annexation of the French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Ya’acov, Ramat Shlomo and Gilo neighborhoods.
“We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands,” then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni told the Palestinians, according to the documents, “and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it.”
According to the documents, Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told Livni, “It is no secret that… we are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim in history. But we must talk about the concept of al-Quds. We have taken your interests and concerns into account, but not all. This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made.”
Olmert's offer to Abbas
One of the documents is a summary of former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer to PA President Mahmoud Abbas on August 31, 2008.
According to the offer, to which Israel maintains Abbas never responded, Israel would annex 6.8 percent of the West Bank, including the four main settlement blocs: Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev and Ariel, as well as all of the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, including Har Homa, in exchange for 5.5% of Israeli territory elsewhere.
A special road would connect Bethlehem with Ramallah, bypassing east Jerusalem and going around Ma’aleh Adumim. East Jerusalem would be divided territorially along the lines of the Clinton parameters, meaning Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, and Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians – with the exception of the “Holy Basin,” whose sovereignty would be negotiated later with the involvement of the US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
Regarding refugees, Israel would acknowledge their “suffering,” but not take responsibility for it, and there would be mention in the agreement of Israeli or Jewish “suffering.”
Israel would take in 1,000 refugees a year for five years on “humanitarian grounds,” and would contribute to compensation of refugees “based on suffering.”
This package made no mention of the Jordan Valley, nor of Israel’s security requirements.
In a document from May 21, 2008, Qurei congratulates Livni on talks with Syria, which she rebuffs, saying that “it’s not official. Talks are going on through Turkey.”
In the same meeting, when negotiating the borders of a Palestinian state, Livni says, “We’re giving up the Golan, so we need more in Beitar Illit.” Qurei responds, “Yes, you make us pay the price.”
Later on, he says, “When I see your map, I advise you to go to Syria first. It will help us. We cannot accept Maale Adumim, Givat Zeev and Ariel. If this is your proposal, let us wait. I am serious.”
“I could have said the same thing when you showed us your map,” Livni retorts.
Qurei says he hopes peace talks with Syria will help the Palestinians.
“Iran is against us, Qatar is against us,” he laments.

Livni said in response to the documents that she intended to continue to respect the discreet nature of the talks so as to allow them to be renewed so the conflict could be resolved.
“We do not intend to respond to internal Palestinian notes on the talks, whether or not they are accurate,” she said.
Livni added that she still believed it was possible to reach an agreement that could solve the conflict.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.