Al-Jazeera, the powerful Qatari satellite television station, has been publishing documents leaked to it from the PLO Negotiations Support Unit.
The release of the documents has caused great damage to the reputation of the PA and the PLO negotiating team. Sa’eb Erekat noted that while the PA was en route to triumph as it gathered international support for the recognition of a Palestinian state and for isolating Israel, al-Jazeera cut short this triumph and “instead of delegitimizing the occupation, they delegitimized us.”
The PA’s success in gathering support for statehood recognition was turning Hamas rule in Gaza into a liability. Once Ramallah is recognized as representing a state, the international community might turn against the separate entity in Gaza and seek to end the problem.
For years al-Jazeera has sought to advance the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Arab regimes. The problem it faces is that the sources of the current wave of Arab unrest are actually local and have nothing to do with pan-Arab ideals or with the Palestinian problem.
Now, after al-Jazeera has brainwashed Arab minds with charges of PLO treason, no declaration of statehood can be expected. Neither will there be a resumption of negotiations with Israel since the Palestinian team will stick to the most hard-line positions possible.
Al-Jazeera, the powerful Qatari satellite television station, has been publishing documents leaked to it from the office of the main PLO negotiator, Sa’eb Erekat, and his Negotiations Support Unit (NSU) on its main news program, and has opened a special WikiLeaks-like website dedicated to the publication of the original documents.1
In addition, the British Guardian, which also publishes WikiLeaks documents, is publishing the Palestinian documents in the same format. In addition, both al-Jazeera and the Guardian are putting much effort into commentaries and explanations of what the documents mean.
It is obvious that al-Jazeera has a political agenda and wants to make a point. The PA sees the publication of the documents as an act of state espionage. An open crisis broke out, with the PA accusing Qatar of treason for hosting the largest U.S. bases in the Middle East.
Charges Meant to Damage the PA’s Reputation
Indeed, the release of the documents has caused great damage to the reputation of the PA and the PLO negotiating team. Sa’eb Erekat noted that while the PA was en route to triumph as it gathered international support for the recognition of a Palestinian state and for isolating Israel, al-Jazeera cut short this triumph and “instead of delegitimizing the occupation, they delegitimized us.”
The main damage caused to the PA and the PLO negotiating team related to their exposure as “traitors” who betrayed Arafat’s red lines on Jerusalem and the right of return, and who collaborated with Israel to the point of helping Israel in assassinating top Hamas terrorists.
On Jerusalem, the main accusation is about betraying Arafat’s legacy of insisting on full Palestinian sovereignty over the al-Aqsa Mosque compound (the Temple Mount), including the cavity beneath the compound, and accepting instead President Clinton’s old parameters of: “what is Jewish to Israel and what is Arab to Palestine.” According to the documents, the Palestinian negotiating team relinquished all Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem except for Har Homa – including Ramot Shlomo, the Jewish neighborhood that sparked the crisis between Israel and the U.S., and Sheikh Jarrah, now a location for demonstrations by international supporters of the Palestinian cause. On the Palestinian refugees, according to the leaked documents, the PLO negotiating team gave up the right of return.
They quote PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ internal briefing to PA officials that “we cannot demand the return of millions, as this will end Israel.” He has made similar statements to the open media. Abbas is also quoted as offering that 100,000 refugees be allowed to return to Israel proper over ten years, while Israeli Prime Minister Olmert was ready to let in only 1,000 per year, totaling 10,000 after ten years.