By Ameen Izzadeen
If the Al-Jazeera revelations are true, then the Palestinian Authority, perhaps, is one of the greatest deceptions in the intrigue-ridden politics of West Asia. But is it? Don’t jump to hasty conclusions.
Never would the Palestinian people, who have been suffering the oppression and humiliation of occupation for more than six decades, have imagined in their wildest dreams that their very leaders have become collaborators – dining, joking and scheming with the oppressor.
Most Palestinian people are shocked and angry, however much the Palestinian Authority leaders try to dissociate themselves from the allegations stemming from the Al-Jazeera revelations. But some are sceptical about their authenticity.
The PA leadership initially dismissed the Palestine Papers – some 1,600 classified documents containing the correspondence and minutes of several meetings between the Palestinians and the Israelis over a decade – as fantasy. Then on Wednesday Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat admitted that the so-called Palestinian Papers contained truths, half truths and fantasy, though he failed to indicate which was which.
He claimed that someone might have hacked into the computers and manipulated the files to achieve political mileage and named Al-Jazeera reporter and alleged former CIA agent Clayton Swisher and former MI6 agent Alistair Crooke as the sources of the Palestine Papers. Probably, this was a damage-control exercise on his part. Or perhaps, he was right.
But Al-Jazeera claimed that the papers were authentic though it declined to say how it got the documents or how it ascertained their authenticity. This is what the Al-Jazeera website said: “Because of the sensitive nature of these documents, Al Jazeera will not reveal the source(s) or detail how they came into our possession. We have taken great care over an extended period of time to assure ourselves of their authenticity. We believe this material will prove to be of inestimable value to journalists, scholars, historians, policymakers and the general public.
“We know that some of what is presented here will prove controversial, but it is our intention to inform, not harm, to spark debate and reflection – not dampen it.
“We present these papers as a service to our viewers and readers as a reflection of our fundamental belief – that public debate and public policies grow, flourish and endure when given air and light.”
According to the so-called Palestine Papers, the Palestinian negotiators had offered to forego much of East Jerusalem, restrict the Palestinian exiles’ right to return to their homeland, collaborated with the Israelis to kill Palestinian activists and backed off from moves to press war crimes charges on Israel following the Goldstone report on the Gaza war. The compromise was preposterous, if they were true.
The PA leaders have denied these charges, pointing out that if these were true, Israel could have grabbed the golden opportunity. But this argument is not enough to prove their innocence.
If the law says a suspect is innocent until proven guilty, cynicism says the reverse is true. Given the intrigue-ridden politics of West Asia, the suspicion is on both the PA nor Al-Jazeera. West Asia is the main stage where the scripts of the secret agendas unfold with many West Asian leaders and media outlets becoming actors, some wittingly, some unwittingly. It was only recently that WikiLeaks exposed the double dealings of the leaders of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the PA.
The truth is not what you see or hear. Rather, the truth is the agenda. Part of this agenda is to allow Israel to take as much land from occupied Palestine as possible. The other part is to keep the West Asian countries under the Zionist-friendly US control.
The truth is that the so-called Palestine papers have killed the peace process. The beneficiary, no doubt, is Israel. Has Israel hacked into the computers and had the papers delivered to Al-Jazeera after changing their contents? The theory sounds plausible because the so-called Al-Jazeera revelations came at a time when more than 110 countries had recognized Palestine as an independent sovereign country and extended support for the Palestinians’ move to go before the United Nations in September and seek full membership. No wonder, some PA supporters branded Al-Jazeera Zionists after the television channel went public with the so-called secret documents.
With the peace process virtually dead, Israel will now go at full throttle with its settlement building activities in East Jerusalem, the capital of the future Palestinian State.
The Al-Jazeera revelations have also pronounced the political death of the PA. The Palestinian people, both in and outside the occupied territories, are furious. They question what right the PA had to offer sweeping concessions to Israel. Besides, the term of the Palestinian president has long expired and many question the legitimacy of the PA to represent the Palestinian people.
If the papers are genuine, they imply that years of peace negotiations under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas were largely a farce. While the Palestinian negotiators erroneously believed that the Israelis were their friends, the US and Israeli negotiators treated them with disdain, according to the language of the conversation recorded in the leaked documents.
If the long overdue elections are held for the Palestinian Authority Presidency and the legislature, only a miracle could bring victory to the PA leadership. Hamas, which has emerged stronger in view of the Al-Jazeera disclosures, will sweep the elections if it contests. If Hamas wins, Israel and the United States would once again refuse to deal with the group, because in their eyes it is a terrorist group. There will be no peace talks for the next several years. Everything seems to be coming to naught for the Palestinians.