In a move that will shake the very foundations of Middle Eastern politics, Al Jazeera and the Guardian
the first of 16,076 documents on Sunday that detail what happened behind closed doors in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Allegedly a complete record of confidential meetings and communications between Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. leaders from 2000-2010, the documents paint a condemning portrait of Palestinian leaders. Instead of the stalwart force they projected publicly, Palestinian authorities expressed repeated willingness to make concessions to Israel over the past ten years.
Based on a record from a June 2008 meeting, Palestinian leaders offered large amounts of illegally occupied land. Shockingly, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to surrender large sections of East Jerusalem where Israelis had been living since 1967. Using the Hebrew word for city, Erekat acknowledged that such a tract would be "the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history." Al Jazeera outlined the scale of this concession on the air:
In a June 2005 meeting at then-prime minister Ariel Sharon's house, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas referred to former Israeli leader in unexpectedly kind language recounting ''with pleasure the fact that Sharon considered him a friend, and the fact that he too considered Sharon a friend.'' Sharon had just scolded Abbas for not cracking down more on terrorism, and the very use of the word "friend" could be insulting to Palestinians, who sometimes called Sharon the "Butcher of Beirut" for his role the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
Further language in the records make the Palestinian leaders' language peace talks sound less like negotiating and more like grovelling. And the tone of U.S. officials show a "contemputous attitude towards the Palestinian side."
Palestinian embarrassment over the duplicity of their leaders, who purported to be less willing to negotiate, is bolstered by the fact that the leak protrays Israel as surprisingly consistent. That is, what Israeli officials said publicly, for the most part, matches what the confidential documents reveal.
The leak announcement came just hours after Israel's foreign minister announced plans to declare a provisional Palestinian state this year. Writing off the gesture as a "publicity stunt" Palestinian leaders urged Isreal to come up with a final peace plan.
The leak purportedly came from the Palestinian side. A second round of papers will be released at 3pm GMT today, and the Guardian will be updating its liveblog on the issue for the foreseeable future. While this story will be developing as more documents are released, the damage may be done.
According to former director of the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center, Robert Greiner, "the quest for a two-state solution is over."