Mahmoud Abbas: Palestine Papers “fraudulent disinformation campaign”
By Yehonathan Tommer
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK – The Palestinian Authority furiously hit back Monday and accused the Emir of Qatar of instigating a “fraudulent disinformation campaign” through the Doha-based Al Jazeera TV network alleging sweeping Palestinian territorial concessions and compromise over the Palestinian right of return in a decade of secret negotiations with Israel.
The concessions are detailed in hundreds of documents, dubbed the Palestinian Papers, which Al-Jazeera released Sunday in conjunction with the British newspaper The Guardian.
The documents refer to the 2008 negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, hosted by then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The secret talks almost reached a final peace settlement but were abruptly cut off when Olmert was forced to resign over extensive corruption charges and his government fell.
The papers claim that Palestinian Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat conceded Palestinian control over the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the walled city of Old Jerusalem and agreed to Israel’s annexation of the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, built after the 1967 Six Day War.
They also reveal details of the Palestinian Authority’s security cooperation with Israel and major PLO offers of compromise over the right of return for Palestinian refugees to places from which they were evicted in Israel in 1948 and 1967.
“We have nothing to hide. The revelations have been taken out of context and contain lies,” an angry Erekat said in Cairo before a panel of hostile interviewers on Al Jazeera.
Palestinian Authority President Mahamoud Abbas, also in the Egyptian capital for talks with President Hosni Mubarek said that Arab leaders have always been fully informed about details of Palestinian negotiations with the Israelis and Americans.
“I don’t know where Al-Jazeera got these secrets from and there is nothing hidden from our Arab neighbours.” Abbas told the Palestinian news agency WAFA.
In Ramallah. Abbas’ personal aide Yasser Abed Rabbo accused the Emir of Qatar Sheik Hamad bi Khalifa al-Thani [known for his sympathies toward Hamas which has persistently decried peace talks with Israel] for giving Al Jazeera “the green light to start the campaign.”
The Qatari royal should “extend the climate of transparency in his own state and reveal his true relations with Iran and Israel,” Abed Rabbo fired back.
In Israel sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say the Papers indicate the exaggerated demands hardline Palestinians are continuing to make.
Washington is examining the papers, but is dubious about their “veracity”, said State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
Israel commentators say the leaked documents tend to confirm some of the agreements which were believed to have been secretly reached at the time.
Al Jazeera promises to release further documents over the coming days over what they term “the unyielding confidence of Israeli negotiators.”
Fears are now held in Jerusalem and Washington that Mahmoud Abbas, who is generally considered a moderate, will backtrack and toughen his positions in order to defend himself from further attacks from political opponents on his appeasement of Israel .