...the biggest loser in the Palestine Papers is someone who was not even on the scene at the time. That is President Obama, who chose to make Israeli settlements the centerpiece of the peace process. The papers show that one of the only areas on which the sides had come close to an agreement was the acceptability of land swaps as a solution to the settlements controversy.
Today, at Obama’s behest, the Palestinians insist on a complete settlement freeze before they’ll even talk — including in areas that just two years ago they had agreed were already de facto Israeli. Thus did Obama turn back the clock on one of the only points of relative consensus and progress between the two sides. The opener to this Jerusalem Post story captures the absurdity of the situation:
With the Palestinian Authority making an international incident over every plan to build in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, a cache of some 1,600 documents — mostly form [sic] 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.
This is actually unfair to the Palestinians. They didn’t make construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem an “international incident.” That was Obama, who has criticized construction in these neighborhoods repeatedly. There is not much news in the Palestine Papers to anyone familiar with the Annapolis-era negotiations. But they do provide another example of how badly the Obama administration has handled the peace process.
And read Melanie Phillips:
Al Guardian would appear on this basis to have been hung out to dry by the very people it has so slavishly supported.
The second way of looking at these documents is to regard all this as absurd beyond belief and that these 'leaks' are a set of deliberately planted lies and distortions. We are told that Mahmoud Abbas and co are now hideously compromised and weakened by this breach in the secrecy in which they had offered these astounding concessions for fear of being overwhelmed by the adverse reaction from their own side should it be known that they were abandoning their hitherto non-negotiable aspirations. If so, then why wouldn’t they have been equally hideously compromised and weakened if the negotiations had been successful and they were thus inevitably seen to have abandoned their non-negotiable aspirations?
Much more important, is it at all likely that the Palestinians would be offering to accept the ‘settlements’ as a fait accompli and even give up virtually all of their claim to Jerusalem in order to live in peace alongside Israel? After all, they constantly insist that the settlements are the great obstacle to continuing negotiations, that Jerusalem is to be their capital and that they will never, ever accept Israel as a Jewish state. And since Israel itself was offering precisely this under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, how could this matched offer from the Palestinians not result in a deal?