News / Middle East

Analysts Say Leaked 'Palestine Papers' Will Impact Prospects for Peace

Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erakat takes part in a demonstration against the Al-Jazeera satellite channel in the West Bank city of Jericho, January 25, 2011
Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erakat takes part in a demonstration against the Al-Jazeera satellite channel in the West Bank city of Jericho, January 25, 2011


Robert Raffaele

The release this week by Qatar-based Al-Jazeera of what it calls "The Palestine Papers" has raised more questions about the stalled Mideast peace process, and the possibility of future talks. Palestinian officials are attacking al-Jazeera, accusing the network of a smear campaign although many analysts say the documents seem authentic.  Some experts say blame for the stalled peace process should be shared by all the parties.

Across the Gaza Strip and the Israeli occupied West Bank, anger over documents that allegedly show Palestinian negotiators willing to grant major concessions to Israel during negotiations in 2008 and 2009.  The documents were released by the Qatar based al-Jazeera television network.

The documents indicate that the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, was willing to cede almost all of Arab East Jerusalem and mostly give up on the right of millions of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.

Publically, the Palestinian Authority was saying that Palestinian refugees have that right.

Israel, mostly absent from the documents, is quoted as proposing that areas of the Jewish state with dense populations of Arab citizens should be transferred to the new Palestinian state, a controversial idea.  The lead Palestinian negotiator at the time, Saeb Erekat, claims that some of the documents were made up.

"I think we are facing the most severe smear campaign in the history of journalism," said Erekat.

Geoffrey Aronson is with the Foundation for Middle East Peace.  He says the Palestinian Authority, which administers the occupied West Bank, comes off as weak.

"I think it's readily apparent that the leadership itself isn't terribly confident of its own place," noted Aronson.

Robert Danin of the Council on Foreign Relations says Palestinian leaders did not honestly inform Palestinians about the negotiations.  

"One of the unfortunate realities is that the Palestinian leadership was not preparing the people for the concessions that they were willing to make and so those concessions now are appearing as a surprise to the people," said Danin.

The leaked papers focus on the period of then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when negotiations were making progress.

But when Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel's prime minister in 2009, analysts say, he insisted on starting over.     

"As I understand it, the Netanyahu government has yet to respond to repeated U.S. requests for specific policy positions on basic issues. So we're at Square One in that process," added Aronson.

Last September, the Obama administration hosted direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, aiming for a peace deal within a year.

Analysts say the U.S. is partly to blame for the failure of those talks because it didn't push hard enough for its own proposals, like an Israeli settlement freeze in the occupied territories.

"We've suggested ideas that in the end we've proven not to be committed to, i.e. a settlement freeze, which have undermined credibility of our own role, the credibility of the process," explained Aronson.

In Washington, during an appearance with the Jordanian foreign minister,  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington remains committed to peace and "a two-state solution that will assure security for Israel and realize the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own."

But analysts say reviving peace talks will be difficult now.

"It's going to be more difficult for President Abbas to return to the negotiating table without very firm conditions being met," noted Danin.

Aronson says Hamas, the rival group that rules the Gaza Strip, is likely to come out stronger among Palestinians, partly because of the documents.

Al Jazeera says the files, covering an 11-year period from 1999 to 2010, are the largest leak of confidential documents on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Middle East Peace Timeline



NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Indian PM Calls for Unity Amid Tense Climate Over Beef Attacks

Recent series of beef-related incidents seen as signs of rising intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities More

Why These Are New York City's Most Treasured Spaces

Under threat of jail time and fines, some New York property owners are not allowed to renovate their spaces without prior approval More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs