See also: US, Israel oppose Arab democracy
Papers leaked to Al-Jazeera, as well as secret US cables published by WikiLeaks, have exposed how Israel and the United States have used the Middle East “peace process” to push total capitulation on the Palestinian side.
This merely confirms what many Palestinians already knew.
In 2006, Israel and its Western backers allowed Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to elect a Legislative Assembly. The election was won by a coalition led by the Hamas movement.
The victors rejected the Oslo Peace Process (then already in its second decade) on the grounds it was merely providing cover for ongoing Israeli oppression.
They also accused the incumbent Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Mahmoud Abbas from Fatah, of collaborating with Israel in this oppression.
The truth of these allegations was increasingly self-evident for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, for whom the peace process did not stop their day-to-day suffering. It became even clearer with visible evidence of cooperation between Fatah and Israel when Fatah launched a coup against the Hamas-led parliament in 2007.
The outcome of that battle was a Fatah-led PA in the West Bank and a Hamas-led Gaza.
US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks in December confirmed Fatah’s coup was carried out in collaboration with Israel and Western powers.
The cables revealed other examples of Abbas’s and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s collaboration with Israel, including with Israel’s December 2008 assault on Gaza. More than 1400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, were killed by Israel.
This was again confirmed in another leak of confidential documents, published by Al-Jazeera between January 23 and 26.
Presumably leaked by someone in the Palestinian negotiating team, this collection of more than 1600 documents gives a detailed account of Israel-Palestine negotiations from 1999 to 2010.
These documents, dubbed the “Palestine Papers” by Al-Jazeera, lay bare the astonishing lengths to which the PA negotiators were willing to go to appease Israel.
The details of the 2007 coup are spelled out in the minutes of the “Quadripartite Meeting of the Gaza Security Committee”, which had representatives from the US, Israeli and Egyptian armed forces and Abbas’s faction of Fatah.
The Palestine Papers show the PA readily accepted the Israeli demand that they help repress Palestinian resistance to Israel’s occupation.
This repression was not just directed at Hamas — Fatah member Hassan al-Madhoun was assassinated by Israel with PA assistance in 2005.
The “two state solution” that underpinned the 1993 Oslo Agreement (the existing Israeli state alongside the small and divided territories of the West Bank and Gaza) had already lost credibility among Palestinians.
However, the Palestine Papers’ revelation of just how much the PA was willing to negotiate away is still astonishing.
Publicly, the PA won’t drop its demand for East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future Palestinian state. However, in negotiations between the PA, the US and Israel in June 2008, the PA offered to relinquish the Palestinian claim to most of East Jerusalem.
This included much of the old city and the flashpoint neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian residents are resisting encroachments by armed Israeli settlers.
In January 2010, PA negotiator Saeb Erekat offered to abandon the Palestinian demand for the right of return for Palestinian refugees in return for allowing the symbolic return of 5000. There are 6 million Palestinians exiled from Palestine, 400,000 in Lebanon alone.
Even more notable is what the Palestine Papers said about Israel, and its US and European Union sponsors.
The January 2010 minutes quote Erekat as saying: “What is in that paper gives them the biggest Yerushalaim [Jerusalem in Hebrew] in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarised state … what more can I give?”
It is clear from the details of 10 years of negotiations that have been released that regardless of how far the Palestinian side was willing to compromise, Israel was never willing to reach an agreement.
What is more, it has been fully supported in its stance by the US and EU “mediators”.
If the PA agreed to one demand, the goalposts simply shifted.
This makes a mockery of Israel’s claim it lacks a Palestinian “partner for peace”. It strongly suggests that for Israel and its backers, the point of the peace process is to simply keep negotiations going without any agreement, while Israel changes the “facts on the ground”.
The promised Palestinian state was never a real possibility for Israel and its allies.
In this way, Israel has kept control over the whole of historic Palestine (1948 Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), while denying citizenship rights to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Palestine Papers show how this apartheid is dependent on the active collaboration of the PA, as well as the Mubarak regime in Egypt. This is what makes the prospect of Arab democratic upsurge so threatening to Israel.