And, believe it or not, it’s not from Wikileaks. ….. AlJazeera is the source. Let’s see how long it takes for the Palestinian Authority to shut down their West Bank operations because of this. (Their reaction can be seen in a separate report below)

The West Bank is a victim of a ‘double occupation’, the first being Israel itself, the second being Israel’s ardent supporter, the PA. The following report is ‘proof of the pudding’….

Photo: AFP

The Palestine Papers “The biggest Yerushalayim”
PA offered to concede almost all of East Jerusalem, an historic concession for which Israel offered nothing in return.

Ramat Shlomo, Israel – For all the international controversy over construction at this quiet settlement in north Jerusalem, there is little of it in evidence.

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).

But The Palestine Papers reveal that Israel had no reason to halt construction in Ramat Shlomo. That’s because Palestinian negotiators agreed in 2008 to allow Israel to annex this settlement, along with almost every other bit of illegal construction in the Jerusalem area – an historic concession for which they received nothing in return.

“We proposed that Israel annexes all settlements”

The unprecedented offer by the PA came in a June 15 trilateral meeting in Jerusalem, involving Condoleezza Rice, the then-US secretary of state, Tzipi Livni, the then-Israeli foreign minister, Ahmed Qurei, PA’s former prime minister, and Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Qurei: This last proposition could help in the swap process. We proposed that Israel annexes all settlements in Jerusalem except Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa). This is the first time in history that we make such a proposition; we refused to do so in Camp David.

Erekat went on to enumerate some of the settlements that the PA was willing to concede: French Hill, Ramat Alon, Ramat Shlomo, Gilo, Talpiot, and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s old city. Those areas contain some 120,000 Jewish settlers. (Erekat did not mention the fate of other major East Jerusalem settlements, like Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Ya’akov, but Qurei’s language indicates that they would also remain a part of Israel.)

An historic concession

The Palestine Papers include a rendering of the land swap map presented in mid-2008 to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.

In an October 2009 meeting, Erekat also proposed a geographical division of Jerusalem’s Old City, with control of the Jewish Quarter and “part of the Armenian Quarter” going to the Israelis.

Settlements in East Jerusalem are illegal under international law, but the Israelis have long treated them as suburbs.

Ramat Shlomo, indeed, feels little different from Jewish neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. It is a 10-minute drive from the Knesset building, the first exit on highway 1 after crossing the Green Line. The Jerusalem municipality provides services in settlements like Ramat and Neke Ya’akov. Pisgat Ze’ev will soon be connected with downtown Jerusalem via a light rail line currently under construction.

Israelis are deeply divided on East Jerusalem settlements – polls conducted last year by Yedioth Ahronoth and Ha’aretz found that 46 per cent and 41 per cent (respectively) support an East Jerusalem settlement freeze – but the government’s position is resolute. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, likes to say that “building in Jerusalem is no different than building in Tel Aviv”; Tzipi Livni says her Kadima party will “never divide Jerusalem” in an agreement with the Palestinians.

That is the Israeli framing. But the PA embraces a similar view, according to The Palestine Papers. And it does so unilaterally: The Israeli side refused to even place Jerusalem on the agenda, let alone offer the PA concessions in return for its historic offer.

In July 2008, Udi Dekel, adviser to then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, asked Erekat why “your side keep[s] mentioning Jerusalem in every meeting.” Six weeks earlier, he told PA map expert Samih al-Abed that he wasn’t allowed to discuss the subject.

Dekel: I do not have permission to discuss Jerusalem without knowing what arrangements will be in Jerusalem.

Al-Abed: And Abu Ala said we cannot discuss Ma’ale Adumim.

Dekel: So let’s eat lunch together, and let them [leaders] decide what to do.

The PA, in other words, never even really negotiated the issue; their representatives gave away almost everything to the Israelis, without pressuring them for concessions or compromise. Erekat seemed to realise this – perhaps belatedly – in a January 2010 meeting with [US president Barack] Obama’s adviser David Hale.

Erekat: Israelis want the two-state solution but they don’t trust. They want it more than you think, sometimes more than Palestinians. What is in that paper gives them the biggest Yerushalaim in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarised state… what more can I give?

An impossible choice?

Palestinian leaders took a more principled stand on other major settlement blocs in the West Bank. In the same meeting where he conceded East Jerusalem, Qurei told Livni that the PA “cannot accept the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, Giv’at Ze’ev, Ephrat and Har Homa settlements”.

All of those (with the exception of Har Homa) are located deep in the West Bank, and their inclusion in Israel would be ruinous for the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state. Ariel, for example, is nearly halfway to Jordan, connected to Israel by an 18km stretch of highway 5.

But dismantling these settlements is also not an option for the Israeli government. Ariel is a major industrial zone with nearly 18,000 residents. Ma’ale Adumim, east of Jerusalem, is a fast-growing “bedroom community” of 30,000 people; during a recent visit, a group of Palestinian construction worker was building family homes on the settlement’s northeastern slopes.

“The people who will buy these homes, they will not just leave in a few years,” said one of the workers, from the nearby village of al-Jahalin.

The Palestine Papers, then, underscore the seeming impossibility of resolving the status of settlements like Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel: Palestinian negotiators cannot accept them, and Israeli negotiators cannot dismantle them.

There is a third option, which Palestinian negotiators raised in several meetings: those Jewish settlements could be allowed to remain as part of the future Palestinian state. Ahmed Qurei made that suggestion to Tzipi Livni several times in 2008, including this exchange in June:

Qurei: Perhaps Ma’ale Adumim will remain under Palestinian sovereignty, and it could be a model for cooperation and coexistence.

Livni: The matter is not simply giving a passport to settlers.

The Israeli foreign minister refused to entertain the idea. “You know this is not realistic,” she told Qurei in May.

Asked about Qurei’s offer earlier this month, residents in Ma’ale Adumim reacted with a mix of laughter and disbelief. Some wrote it off as a political impossibility; others worried about their safety, claiming that they would be killed.

There is, in other words, seemingly no mutually acceptable policy for Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, and other major West Bank settlements within a two-state solution – a fact the Bush administration was willing to acknowledge in July 2008.

Rice: I don’t think that any Israeli leader is going to cede Ma’ale Adumim.

Qurei: Or any Palestinian leader.

Rice: Then you won’t have a state!

Rice may prove to be correct: Two and a half years later, the parties are no closer to a solution on settlements, and the Israeli government may be gearing up to issue a “massive” new round of housing permits for illegal settlers in the West Bank.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from Jerusalem on plans to annex illegal Israeli settlements


Reaction to the leaked Palestine papers

Palestinian negotiators have angrily dismissed accounts as lies, fabrications and half truths

As Palestinian negotiators named in the secret accounts of negotiations with Israel angrily dismissed them as lies, fabrications and half truths, there was an equally hostile backlash over their offer to let the Jewish state keep its settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and other concessions.

The two leading Palestinian negotiators named in the documents, Saeb Erekat and Ahmed Qureia, reacted furiously to the leaks. Erekat called them a “bunch of lies”. Qureia claimed that “many parts of the documents were fabricated, as part of the incitement against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian leadership”.

But a former colleague of the two men on the negotiations team, Diana Buttu, called their secret proposal in 2008 to let Israel keep all but one of the Jewish settlements within Jerusalem shocking and “out of touch” with the wishes of the Palestinian people.

She called on Erekat to resign and said that the concessions effectively mean that Israel’s strategy of continuing to expand Jewish settlements is delivering it a greater share of Jerusalem.

“It is highly, highly problematic because it rewards Israel for its settlement activity,” she said.

“It highlights to me that we’ll never be able to get anything from negotiations. You’ve got one party that’s incredibly powerful and another party that’s incredibly weak and my own experience is that we got nowhere during negotiations.

“I’ve no reason to believe it’s any different now, 18 years after the peace process started. The Israelis are stronger than they were 18 years ago and the Palestinians are weaker. It is clear that there is a rising level of desperation [by Palestinian negotiators] and complete lack of any connection to the reality Palestinians face.”

But former US negotiators said that the concessions made by the Palestinians were the logical result of adhering to the principle laid down by then president Bill Clinton at the 2000 Camp David talks that Israel would have sovereignty over those parts of Jerusalem that were predominantly Jewish, including settlements in the occupied east of the city.

Martin Indyk, Clinton’s national security adviser on the Israeli-Palestinian question and a former US ambassador to Israel, said: “My reading is there’s nothing more here on Jerusalem than [Yasser] Arafat agreed to in Camp David. The principle was very clear from Camp David on, that what’s Jewish in Jerusalem will be under Israeli sovereignty and what is Palestinian will be under Palestinian sovereignty. That was the specific concession that Arafat made at Camp David.”

Buttu disputes that account, backing the assertion in the documents by Qureia, the lead Palestinian negotiator, that “this is the first time in history that we make such a proposition. We refused to do so in Camp David”.

She said that the Palestinians did not previously agree that Jewish areas of East Jerusalem would fall under Israeli sovereignty.

“It was rejected at the Taba summit [in 2001] which I attended. Nabil Shaath [former chief negotiator] said that if we accept the Clinton parameters we would need a GPS in order to navigate which part of Jerusalem is Palestine and which part of Jerusalem is not Palestine,” she said.

Aaron David Miller, who was part of the negotiating team during the Clinton years and a senior advisor on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the Bush administration, said that the Palestinian hand was being forced by the reality of population numbers. “The Palestinians have bought off, theoretically, on the proposition that what was contained in the Clinton parameters … that demography will out. I think the Palestinians would move toward that position and if they got what they think they need on the issue of territory and refugees I think they’d be willing to turn that position in to a real one that would stand the harsh light of day within Palestinian society,” he said.

Miller said the documents show that the Palestinians were serious about reaching an agreement but that the Israeli leadership, under then prime minister Ehud Olmert, was too politically weak to deliver.

“At the beginning of Star Wars there’s a wonderful phrase: a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. When I read these documents that’s essentially what I thought about. What appears is very serious and creative ideas. The issue has always been the absence of will, leadership and the right political environment to actually do the deal,” he said. “We’re talking about negotiations that didn’t have legs. Ehud Olmert could never have taken what developed given his political circumstances and sold it.”

Daniel Levy, a former member of the Israeli negotiating team at Taba, said the documents reveal the extent to which the Palestinians remained wedded to a strategy that had failed to deliver peace over the previous 15 years.

“What’s so striking is not so much the nature of the concessions, it’s that year after year they’re pursuing the same strategy which not only shows itself to have failed but showed itself to be on a slope of constant Palestinian slippage. They knew that the Israelis were pocketing whatever they gave, building more settlements and then saying: we need more land,” he said.

“The Palestinians never extracted themselves from that structurally losing proposition especially the expectation that the Americans would deliver Israel because the Palestinians thought they were the ones being reasonable in the negotiations. But it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen. The Americans constantly sided with the unreasonable side and the Palestinians kept digging themselves deeper and deeper in to this losing proposition.”

Buttu said the revelations are likely to damage the credibility of the Palestinian leadership.

“Through all of this talk about Jerusalem as the capital, they’ve never revealed that they were going to make any concession like this. On Thursday, Nabil Shaath said East Jerusalem in its entirety is our capital, there are no concessions on our part. He’s talking about no concessions when behind closed doors there are major concessions that are being made,” she said.

But Miller suggested that the Palestinians may have leaked the documents in an attempt to counter Israeli claims that they are the obstacle to peace.

“You have to ask yourself the question: why have these documents appeared now? The answer is that the Palestinians, as part of a campaign to gain international support and recognition for the legitimacy of Palestinian statehood and to increase pressure not only on the Israelis but the Americans, have chosen to say to the world: look, it’s not so hard.

“Previous Israeli governments were interested in a serious negotiation. So why can’t we have one now based on the principles that previous Israeli governments have agreed to?”



  1. January 24, 2011 at 11:07

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anonymous, thejewishquestion. thejewishquestion said: BIGGEST LEAK OF THE DECADE: And, believe it or not, it’s not from Wikileaks, ….. AlJazeera is the source… #israel […]

  2. skulz fontaine said,

    January 24, 2011 at 18:30

    Palestine betrayed! Damn, Palestinians are raped by the Israeli occupiers and betrayed by the PA. Holy demoralizing crap-o-la. al-Jazeera calls it “The Palestine Papers.” al-Jazeera should call this disgrace for what it is, BETRAYAL!
    Brothers and Sisters of the Palestine, you are screwed.

  3. Observer said,

    January 24, 2011 at 21:14

    The Palestinians are not screwed. Not at all. The “Two State Solution” was always a cruel joke on Palestinians. It allowed the pretense of a process and negotiations while Israel expanded into occupied land.

    The solution for Palestinians, the only solution, is to dissolve the PA, make Israel responsible for governing the West Bank and Gaza, and to begin a civil rights campaign modeled on that of South Africa.

    Why settle for bantus?

  4. mikael said,

    January 24, 2011 at 21:51

    Never forget in your moment of anger that thr Palestinians where alone. Whit a agresiv nabo, and a world comunety that stod a watched, and said nothing.

    For decades they fighted under the radar of the western hemispher, and how do you think it is to walk in a walley of shaddows for decades.
    To me this leak is about humiliating the Palestinian people, they bring no bews, but is a reminder of a sad past. Its disigned to split the Palestinians, to make a distraction, to make coments of yesterday news.

    “War is peace.
    Freedom is slavery.
    Ignorance is strength.”
    — George Orwell (1984)

  5. January 25, 2011 at 10:54

    […] PA offered to concede almost all of East Jerusalem, an historic concession for which Israel offered nothing in return. Read More Here […]

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