Editorial: The Palestine papers

The Palestine papers published by Al-Jazeera in late January have been dubbed the Palestinian WikiLeaks. They include all the secret documents relating to the negotiations between the PLO, Israel and the US around setting up a Palestinian state.

As in the case of WikiLeaks, their supposedly dramatic revelations come as no surprise to anybody who has been following the news over the years with a modicum of attention and objectivity. What the publication does achieve is to strip away the fig leaves that allowed the participants in the negotiations to present them in any kind of a positive light.

Nobody is able to kid themselves or others any more. There never was a peace process – it was a process only for forcing a surrender of all of the Palestinians’ just demands: for a sovereign homeland, with east Jerusalem as its capital, for control of its holy places, and for the right of return to Palestine for all those who had been forced out, along with their descendants.

At Oslo in 1993, a massive 78 percent of historic Palestine was traded for peace. Any demand in subsequent negotiations that Palestinians cede further territory is totally illegitimate, and yet the US and the Israelis have kept on pressing for such concessions, while Israel has forged ahead at full speed with building jewish settlements on the little land that, according to the Oslo accords, was supposed to be for the Palestinians.

The US and Israel always blamed their own obduracy on the Palestinian negotiators. Yasser Arafat would, according to them, have secured a Palestinian state at Camp David if only he had been more flexible and ceded control of Temple Mount. Yet under Mohammed Abbas, Palestinian negotiators have become more flexible than putty, ceding control of east Jerusalem and the holy sites, and compromising the right of return, but of course nothing is ever enough. They have achieved precisely nothing – not a blade of grass.

Following its leadership’s failure to secure anything at all for the Palestinian people, Fatah lost its influence. The people turned to Hamas, which was prepared to continue to represent their fighting spirit and their demand for justice. Hamas is, of course, in control of Gaza, and would undoubtedly control the West Bank too, were free and fair elections to be allowed, even though imperialism is pumping in money there in a bid to influence public opinion.

As it is, having seized control there via an illegitimate coup, Fatah suppresses all dissent in the West Bank (and, as the Palestine papers show, is even willing to collaborate with Israel in hunting down militants). And it still does not dare to hold the elections that were due two years ago, since it is certain that Hamas would win them.

The publication of the Palestine papers has proved that, in the face of Israeli intransigence backed by US imperialism, the only outcome of continuing negotiations over the years has been to turn people who were once brave freedom fighters into traitors and collaborators who cannot possibly any longer be trusted to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people.

The Guardian was recently forced to admit: “The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over.” (‘Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process’ by Seumas Milne and Ian Black, 24 January 2011)