It’s hard to gauge the full impact Al Jazeera’s Wikileaks-like release of a huge cache of internal documents will have on the moderate Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. But, so far, the breached information, detailing the past 10 years of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), seems to be weakening Abbas’s position among his own constituency, and stiffening the hard-line of Israel.
The first major revelation from the so-called “Palestine Papers” is that the PA offered vast concessions on territory in disputed East Jerusalem and refugees’ right of return in 2008. They also revealed that Israel, even under the comparatively dovish regime of Ehud Olmert, did not reciprocate or even budge.
As Al Jazeera’s Daud Abdullah writes, “The Palestine Papers show that 10 years later, the leadership of PLO, now substantially weakened and fragmented, was prepared to deviate from the red line laid down by Arafat.”
For current Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, this is evidence that supports his own recently proposed “long-term interim agreement.” As Haaretz reports, he said on Israeli Radio last night: "The documents prove that if even Olmert and Livni couldn't reach a compromise with the Palestinians, everyone will eventually see that the only solution is a long-term interim agreement. Any rational person would reach the same conclusion."
Lieberman’s proposal would essentially freeze the current situation and begin establishing a Palestinian state on slightly less than half of the West Bank. This plan is not beneficial in the eyes of most Palestinians and, pretty much, the rest of the world.
While this goes on, it’s good to remember the story of Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Palestinian doctor who worked in an Israeli hospital before three of his daughters were killed by Israeli rocket fire during the Gaza War two years ago. Abuelaish, who is now a professor in women’s health at the University of Toronto, wrote a book called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, and recently spoke to the New York Times about Palestinians and Israelis. “We are like conjoined twins with one heart and one brain,” he said. “Any harm to one will affect the other.”