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Report: Palestinians agreed to give up most of East Jerusalem

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Rutashubanyuma, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Report: Palestinians agreed to give up most of East Jerusalem

    From Kevin Flower, CNN
    January 24, 2011 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)

    [​IMG][​IMG]





    Palestinian documents leaked



    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • NEW: Hamas accuses the Palestinian Authority of working against Palestinian interests
    • Al-Jazeera: It has nearly 1,700 leaked documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    • Palestinians offered compromises on sensitive issues, the documents show
    • The leak could prove politically damaging for Palestinian Authority President Abbas


    RELATED TOPICS



    Jerusalem (CNN) -- Palestinian negotiators agreed to give up large areas of East Jerusalem to Israel during negotiations dating back to 2008, the Al-Jazeera network said Sunday, suggesting Palestinian leaders have been willing to offer much larger concessions in private than they had previously acknowledged in public.
    The Sunday report was based on a trove of nearly 1,700 internal documents the network said it had obtained. Al-Jazeera did not disclose the source of the material, nor did it say how the documents came into its possession. It said it will be releasing what it has between Sunday and Wednesday of this week.
    The papers, some of which were posted on the network's website, shed new light on the details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 1999 through last year. They could not be immediately verified by CNN.
    The documents outline meetings between Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. officials in which Palestinian negotiators offered in 2008 to relinquish claims on nearly all of the settlements built in East Jerusalem.
    Read the Al-Jazeera story
    The offer was flatly rejected by the Israeli side, according to the posted documents.
    Israel seized the eastern half of the city following war with its Arab neighbors in 1967 and considers Jerusalem its sovereign capital. This is a claim rejected by the international community which considers Israeli building in East Jerusalem to be illegal. Palestinians want the eastern part of the city as the capital for their future state.
    The leaked documents could prove to be politically damaging for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Officials from the Ramallah-based government have consistently condemned growing Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and disclosures that Palestinians officials were willing to make offers that would allow Israeli construction to continue are likely to be seized on by their critics.
    The Hamas militant group, which rules the Palestinian territory of Gaza, condemned the Palestinian Authority team, saying it "does not have credibility to negotiate because it offered essential concessions." The Palestinian Authority rules in the West Bank.
    "All the doubts and all the concerns of the Palestinian people and the resistance were true," Oussama Hamdan, head of Hamas foreign relations, said Monday in a CNN interview from Lebanon. "Those negotiators have no credibility and they are not authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians because of the division, because there is no united Palestinian institutions and because they don't have cards of power to negotiate with the Israelis."
    Sami Abu Zhuri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said the leaked internal documents about Palestinian concessions on East Jerusalem illustrate the collaboration between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. He accused the Abbas government of working with Jerusalem to put an end to the notion of a Palestinian state.
    Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, has been branded a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
    In one leaked document from 2010, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat is quoted as telling a U.S. State Department official, "Israelis want the two-state solution but they don't trust. They want it more than you think, sometimes more than the Palestinians. What is in that paper (that) gives them the biggest (Jerusalem) in Jewish history ... what more can I give?"
    In addition to details about concessions made on the issue of East Jerusalem, Al-Jazeera reported that Palestinian officials also offered compromise positions on sensitive issues like the right of return of Palestinian refugees and control of the Temple Mount, which houses the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the most important sites in Islam.
    Wafa, the Palestinian Authority's news agency, quoted President Abbas telling newspaper editors in Cairo Sunday that he did not know where Al-Jazeera got its information and that there was nothing new to report.
    U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Sunday night the United States is looking into the purported leak to Al-Jazeera.
    "The U.S. government is reviewing the alleged Palestinian documents released by Al-Jazeera. We cannot vouch for their veracity," he tweeted.
    CNN's Nic Robertson, Talal Abu Rahma and Nada Husseini contributed to this report.
     
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  2. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    After years of har knuckled negotiations, Palestinians minus Hamas have come to the realization that a piecemeal peace deal brockered by the Americans is more achievable than sticking to past reveries....................
     
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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


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

    [​IMG]
    Introducing The Palestine Papers [​IMG]
    Glossary: The Palestine Papers [​IMG]
    Timeline: Palestine-Israel conflict [​IMG]
    Main US negotiators [​IMG]
    Main Israeli negotiators [​IMG]
    Main Palestinian negotiators



    [​IMG]
    Erekat's solution for the Haram

    Clayton Swisher 23 Jan 2011 14:39 GMT


    The PA's chief negotiator suggested unprecedented compromises on the division of Jerusalem and its holy sites.



    [​IMG]
    The "napkin map" revealed

    Gregg Carlstrom 23 Jan 2011 14:39 GMT


    The Palestine Papers include a rendering of the Israeli land swap map presented in mid-2008 to Mahmoud Abbas.



    Analysis

    [​IMG]
    "Shocking revelations" on Jerusalem

    Daud Abdullah 23 Jan 2011 14:36 GMT


    The chief Palestinian negotiator appears disconnected from his own people and his wider Arab and Muslim constituency.



    [​IMG]
    "Risks for peace"

    Robert Grenier 23 Jan 2011 14:36 GMT


    The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over.
     
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    Palestine papers are distortion of truth, say Palestinian officials

    Senior PLO leader attacks Palestine papers as 'propaganda game', as Hamas accuses PLO of betraying Palestinian interests




    • Ian Black, Seumas Milne, and Harriet Sherwood in Ramallah
    • guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 January 2011 13.19 GMT <li class="history">Article history [​IMG] Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Abbas. Erekat said the Palestine papers were 'full of distortions and fraud'. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP Palestinian officials today lashed out at the publication of leaked documents revealing a secret agreement to accept Israel's annexation of all but one of the settlements built illegally in East Jerusalem - one of the most sensitive issues to be resolved in the conflict with Israel.
      The unprecedented proposal, revealed by al-Jazeera TV and the Guardian, was one of several concessions that have caused shockwaves among Palestinians and across the Arab world. It appears in a cache of thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records covering more than a decade of negotiations and which provide an extraordinary and vivid insight into the disintegration of the 20-year peace process.
      Yasser Abed-Rabbo, a senior PLO leader, attacked al-Jazeera and its Qatari owners over what he called "a distortion of the truth" designed to create confusion. Speaking in Ramallah, headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, he called the leak "a propaganda game through the media in order to brainwash Palestinian citizens".
      Saeb Erekat, the PLO's chief negotiator, who features in many of the documents, said: "We don't have anything to hide. [The papers have been] taken out of context and contain lies ... Al-Jazeera's information is full of distortions and fraud."
      Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, insisted: "We say things very clearly. We do not have secrets."
      Hamas, the Islamist movement which opposes negotiations with Israel and advocates armed resistance, accused the PLO of betraying Palestinian interests. "This leadership is not honest," Osama Hamdan told al-Jazeera. "They have no credibility to negotiate. It is clear from these documents that they have no authorisation from their own people."
      Further documents in the cache that will be released over coming days will also reveal:
      &#8226; The scale of confidential concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators, including on the highly sensitive issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
      &#8226; How Israeli leaders privately asked for some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state.
      &#8226; The intimate level of covert co-operation between Israeli security forces and the Palestinian Authority.
      &#8226; The central role of British intelligence in drawing up a secret plan to crush Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
      &#8226; How Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders were privately tipped off about Israel's 2008-09 war in Gaza.
      As well as the annexation of all East Jerusalem settlements except Har Homa, the Palestine papers show PLO leaders privately suggested swapping part of the flashpoint East Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah for land elsewhere. They also proposed a joint committee to take over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City - the issue that helped sink the Camp David talks in 2000 after Yasser Arafat refused to concede sovereignty around the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.
      The offers were made in 2008-09, in the wake of George Bush's Annapolis conference, and were privately hailed by Erekat as giving Israel "the biggest Yerushalayim [the Hebrew name for Jerusalem] in history" in order to resolve the world's most intractable conflict. Israeli leaders, backed by the US government, said the offers were inadequate.
      Israel's rightwing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, used the revelations to attack the previous government of Ehud Olmert. "Even the leftist government of Olmert and Livni did not succeed in reaching a peace agreement, despite the many concessions," he told Israel Radio today.
      Intensive efforts to revive talks by the Obama administration foundered last year over Israel's refusal to extend a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction. Prospects are now uncertain amid increasing speculation that a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict is no longer attainable - and fears of a new war.
      Many of the 1,600 leaked documents have been independently authenticated by the Guardian and corroborated by former participants in the talks and intelligence and diplomatic sources.
      The Guardian's coverage is supplemented by WikiLeaks cables, emanating from the US consulate in Jerusalem and embassy in Tel Aviv. Israeli officials also kept their own records of the talks, which may differ from the confidential Palestinian accounts.
      The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders to allow Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalem - including Gilo, a focus of controversy after Israel gave the go-ahead for 1,400 new homes - has never been made public.
      All settlements built on territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 war are illegal under international law, but the Jerusalem homes are routinely described, and perceived, by Israel as municipal "neighbourhoods". Israeli governments have consistently sought to annex the largest settlements as part of a peace deal, and came close to doing so at Camp David.
      Erekat told Israeli leaders in 2008: "This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made." No such concession had been made at Camp David.
      But the offer was rejected out of hand by Israel because it did not include a big settlement near the city Ma'ale Adumim as well as Har Homa and several others deeper in the West Bank, including Ariel. "We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands," Israel's then foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, told the Palestinians, "and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it."
      The overall impression that emerges from the documents, which stretch from 1999 to 2010, is of the weakness and growing desperation of Palestinian leaders as failure to reach agreement or even halt all settlement temporarily undermines their credibility in relation to their Hamas rivals.
      The former negotiator Diana Buttu called on Erekat to resign following the revelations. "Saeb must step down and if he doesn't it will only serve to show just how out of touch and unrepresentative the negotiators are," she said.
      Palestinian and Israeli officials both point out that any position in negotiations is subject to the principle that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed" and therefore is invalid without a over-arching deal.
      The PA, set up after the 1993 Oslo agreement between Israel and the PLO, is under pressure from a disaffected Palestinian public and Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in 2006 and has controlled the Gaza Strip since its takeover in 2007.
      Unlike the PLO, Hamas rejects negotiations, except for a long-term ceasefire, and refuses to recognise Israel. Supported by Iran and Syria, its charter contains anti-semitic elements. The group is classed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and the EU, despite pressure for it to be included in a wider political process.
     
  17. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Palestine papers are distortion of truth, say Palestinian officials

    Senior PLO leader attacks Palestine papers as 'propaganda game', as Hamas accuses PLO of betraying Palestinian interests

    Ian Black, Seumas Milne, and Harriet Sherwood in Ramallah

    • guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 January 2011 13.19 GMT <li class="history">Article history [​IMG] Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Abbas. Erekat said the Palestine papers were 'full of distortions and fraud'. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP Palestinian officials today lashed out at the publication of leaked documents revealing a secret agreement to accept Israel's annexation of all but one of the settlements built illegally in East Jerusalem - one of the most sensitive issues to be resolved in the conflict with Israel.
      The unprecedented proposal, revealed by al-Jazeera TV and the Guardian, was one of several concessions that have caused shockwaves among Palestinians and across the Arab world. It appears in a cache of thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records covering more than a decade of negotiations and which provide an extraordinary and vivid insight into the disintegration of the 20-year peace process.
      Yasser Abed-Rabbo, a senior PLO leader, attacked al-Jazeera and its Qatari owners over what he called "a distortion of the truth" designed to create confusion. Speaking in Ramallah, headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, he called the leak "a propaganda game through the media in order to brainwash Palestinian citizens".
      Saeb Erekat, the PLO's chief negotiator, who features in many of the documents, said: "We don't have anything to hide. [The papers have been] taken out of context and contain lies ... Al-Jazeera's information is full of distortions and fraud."
      Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, insisted: "We say things very clearly. We do not have secrets."
      Hamas, the Islamist movement which opposes negotiations with Israel and advocates armed resistance, accused the PLO of betraying Palestinian interests. "This leadership is not honest," Osama Hamdan told al-Jazeera. "They have no credibility to negotiate. It is clear from these documents that they have no authorisation from their own people."
      Further documents in the cache that will be released over coming days will also reveal:
      &#8226; The scale of confidential concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators, including on the highly sensitive issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
      &#8226; How Israeli leaders privately asked for some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state.
      &#8226; The intimate level of covert co-operation between Israeli security forces and the Palestinian Authority.
      &#8226; The central role of British intelligence in drawing up a secret plan to crush Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
      &#8226; How Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders were privately tipped off about Israel's 2008-09 war in Gaza.
      As well as the annexation of all East Jerusalem settlements except Har Homa, the Palestine papers show PLO leaders privately suggested swapping part of the flashpoint East Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah for land elsewhere. They also proposed a joint committee to take over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City - the issue that helped sink the Camp David talks in 2000 after Yasser Arafat refused to concede sovereignty around the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.
      The offers were made in 2008-09, in the wake of George Bush's Annapolis conference, and were privately hailed by Erekat as giving Israel "the biggest Yerushalayim [the Hebrew name for Jerusalem] in history" in order to resolve the world's most intractable conflict. Israeli leaders, backed by the US government, said the offers were inadequate.
      Israel's rightwing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, used the revelations to attack the previous government of Ehud Olmert. "Even the leftist government of Olmert and Livni did not succeed in reaching a peace agreement, despite the many concessions," he told Israel Radio today.
      Intensive efforts to revive talks by the Obama administration foundered last year over Israel's refusal to extend a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction. Prospects are now uncertain amid increasing speculation that a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict is no longer attainable - and fears of a new war.
      Many of the 1,600 leaked documents have been independently authenticated by the Guardian and corroborated by former participants in the talks and intelligence and diplomatic sources.
      The Guardian's coverage is supplemented by WikiLeaks cables, emanating from the US consulate in Jerusalem and embassy in Tel Aviv. Israeli officials also kept their own records of the talks, which may differ from the confidential Palestinian accounts.
      The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders to allow Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalem - including Gilo, a focus of controversy after Israel gave the go-ahead for 1,400 new homes - has never been made public.
      All settlements built on territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 war are illegal under international law, but the Jerusalem homes are routinely described, and perceived, by Israel as municipal "neighbourhoods". Israeli governments have consistently sought to annex the largest settlements as part of a peace deal, and came close to doing so at Camp David.
      Erekat told Israeli leaders in 2008: "This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made." No such concession had been made at Camp David.
      But the offer was rejected out of hand by Israel because it did not include a big settlement near the city Ma'ale Adumim as well as Har Homa and several others deeper in the West Bank, including Ariel. "We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands," Israel's then foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, told the Palestinians, "and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it."
      The overall impression that emerges from the documents, which stretch from 1999 to 2010, is of the weakness and growing desperation of Palestinian leaders as failure to reach agreement or even halt all settlement temporarily undermines their credibility in relation to their Hamas rivals.
      The former negotiator Diana Buttu called on Erekat to resign following the revelations. "Saeb must step down and if he doesn't it will only serve to show just how out of touch and unrepresentative the negotiators are," she said.
      Palestinian and Israeli officials both point out that any position in negotiations is subject to the principle that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed" and therefore is invalid without a over-arching deal.
      The PA, set up after the 1993 Oslo agreement between Israel and the PLO, is under pressure from a disaffected Palestinian public and Hamas, which won Palestinian elections in 2006 and has controlled the Gaza Strip since its takeover in 2007.
      Unlike the PLO, Hamas rejects negotiations, except for a long-term ceasefire, and refuses to recognise Israel. Supported by Iran and Syria, its charter contains anti-semitic elements. The group is classed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and the EU, despite pressure for it to be included in a wider political process.
     
  18. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Reaction to the leaked Palestine papers

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



    • Chris McGreal in Washington
    • The Guardian, Monday 24 January 2011 <li class="history">Article history [​IMG] Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has dismissed accounts of negotiations as lies, fabrications and half truths. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images 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 &#8230; 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?"
     
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    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    Reaction to the leaked Palestine papers

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



    • Chris McGreal in Washington
    • The Guardian, Monday 24 January 2011 <li class="history">Article history [​IMG] Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has dismissed accounts of negotiations as lies, fabrications and half truths. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images 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?"
     
  20. Rutashubanyuma

    Rutashubanyuma JF-Expert Member

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    East Jerusalem residents dismiss land-swap proposals

    Palestine papers reveal concessions and divisions for Israel's capital negotiated in effort to reach peace settlement


    • Harriet Sherwood in East Jerusalem
    • guardian.co.uk, Sunday 23 January 2011 20.00 GMT <li class="history">Article history [​IMG] Rifka al-Kurd, who lost her home in 1948, says it's not worth giving up land even for peace. Photograph: Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian In the broad streets of Gilo, which straddles a hill overlooking Jerusalem in one direction and Bethlehem in the other, the notion that this is anything other than a benign neighbourhood of Israel's capital is met with incredulity.
      "This is part of Jerusalem even if it's on the other side of the Green Line," said Nissim Ohana, minding his flower shop in the fading winter sunshine. He insisted that Gilo and places like it &#8211; suburbs to some, settlements to others &#8211; would be part of Israel come any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
      Fortunately for the 40,000 residents of Gilo, Palestinian negotiators appear to agree. According to minutes of the 2008 peace talks seen by the Guardian, the Palestinians were prepared to concede that all settlements in East Jerusalem bar one should be annexed to Israel. The exception was Har Homa, close to Gilo, because of its critical location blocking access between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
      Ohana, 72, who lives in Har Homa and works in Gilo, dismissed the idea of even one exception. "It's something that can't happen. If the Israeli government thought it might, they wouldn't be building in Har Homa. Jerusalem is ours, not theirs, and it cannot be taken apart. They have their own neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem"
      His views were largely echoed by Anat Mamon, 43. "This is totally part of Jerusalem. It's true it was captured in 1967, but I don't relate to it as such. Jerusalem is our capital; the whole of Jerusalem belongs to Israel."
      Gilo was established in 1973 as part of what has become a ring of settlements around Jerusalem, separating the Arab east of the city from the West Bank. All settlements built on occupied or annexed land are illegal under international law. In the second intifada (uprising) about 10 years ago, the settlement came under fire from militants in the nearby Palestinian town of Beit Jala. A protective wall erected in 2002 was dismantled last year when Israeli officials concluded it was no longer necessary.
      These East Jerusalem settlement blocs &#8211; home to almost 200,000 Israelis &#8211; plus those in the West Bank, in which a further 300,000 Jews live, have long been a key issue in negotiations. Palestinians say their growth is making a viable Palestinian state impossible.
      As well as ceding East Jerusalem settlements, the papers show negotiators raised the possibility that Sheikh Jarrah, a mainly Arab area of East Jerusalem, could be divided between Israel and a Palestinian state. "So for an area in Sheikh Jarrah, I have to see an equivalent area," a senior Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qurei, is recorded as saying.
      Sheikh Jarrah is a flashpoint area where ideologically motivated settlers have taken over Arab houses in recent years. The idea of parts of it being ceded to Israel was met with disbelieving laughter from Izzat Gosheh, 48, the owner of a fruit and vegetable shop. "Not one of [the Palestinian negotiators] would dare say this in public because everyone would turn against them," he said. "They cannot give up this land. Nobody can move me out of my house or exchange my house on my behalf."
      Out on the street, 31-year-old Mohammed, who declined to give his full name, was scathing. "You are asking us to divide something that belongs to us and has already been divided before. Our land is like a piece of cake, and [the Israelis] are eating it all. Tomorrow they will chase us for the spoons and forks."
      Rifka al-Kurd, 87, lost her home in the 1948 war and is now in danger of losing it again. Israeli settlers have already taken over her son's house "and they want to kick me out of here", she said.
      Sitting in front of an afternoon TV soap opera, she was not prepared to countenance a repeat. "It's not worth giving up land, even for peace. We have already given up our land in 1948. It was our land, they forced us away. You want us to do that again. They are chasing us wherever we go, but God will punish them for what they have done to us."
     
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