In supposedly earth-shattering news, both Al-Jazeera and al-Guardian have reported that the 'Palestinians' offered to let Israel keep all of the Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem except Har Homa (population 9,331, or about as many Jews as were expelled from Gaza five and a half years ago, most of whom still have no place to live). The 'Palestinians' are denying the reports.
Palestinians were prepared to compromise over two of the toughest issues, Jerusalem and refugees, during peace talks in 2008, the Al-Jazeera TV channel reported Sunday, quoting from documents it said came from the talks.
Palestinian negotiators quickly denied the reports, saying parts of the documents were fabricated. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he has kept Arab countries fully briefed on the negotiations with Israel.
Al-Jazeera said the Palestinians offered to let Israel keep all but one of the Jewish enclaves it build in east Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Mideast war. About 200,000 Israelis live there now.
In return, according to the quoted documents, the Palestinians wanted Israeli land, including a section close to the West Bank-Israel line where many of Israel's minority Arab citizens live.
Also, they proposed international control of the key Jerusalem holy site as a temporary measure. The Palestinians, Israel, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan would administer the site where the Al Aqsa Mosque compound sits atop the ruins of the biblical Jewish temples, until Israel and the Palestinians could work out a permanent arrangement.
On the issue of refugees, the documents said the Palestinians agreed that Israel would take in 10,000 refugees a year for 10 years — a total of 100,000. The Palestinians have insisted that all refugees from the 1948-49 war and their descendants — several million people — have the right to return to Israel. The Israelis have always rejected that as a threat to the Jewish character of their state.
The chief Palestinian negotiator in the 2008 talks, Ahmed Qureia, told The Associated Press that "many parts of the documents were fabricated, as part of the incitement against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian leadership."
He denied making an offer about the Jewish enclaves in east Jerusalem, claiming that Israel refused to discuss the issue.
The current chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, dismissed the TV report as "lies and half truths."
They can deny it all they want, but much of this has been reported before. In fact, it was reported more than a year ago.
JPost also reports that the 'Palestinians' put forward a proposal under which they would get 98.1% of Judea and Samaria.
The Palestinians were willing forego only 1.9% of the Judea and Samaria territories, but they were willing to accept that Gush Etziyon, Modi'in and several other settlement remain in Israeli hands.
In Jerusalem, the Palestinians were willing to accept the neighborhoods of Ramot, Ramot Alon, Ramat Shlomo, Pisgat Ze'ev, Neve Ya'akov, Ma'alot Dafna, French Hill and Gilo, the southern neighborhood which has recently become a sticking point not with the Palestinians but with the United States after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would build several hundred new housing units there.
However, according to the report, the Palestinians themselves have [should be "had" CiJ] agreed to forego areas where they now demand Israel implement a complete halt to construction.
There are a lot more details there too - read the whole thing.
Over at al-Guardian, Jonathan Freedland wonders who will be hurt by these disclosures (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Many on the Palestinian streets will recoil to read not just the concessions offered by their representatives – starting with the yielding of those parts of East Jerusalem settled by Israeli Jews – but the language in which those concessions were made.
To hear their chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, tell the Israelis that the Palestinians are ready to concede "the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history" – even using the Hebrew word for the city – will strike many as an act of humiliation.
Referring to Ariel Sharon as a "friend" will offend those Palestinians who still revile the former prime minister as the "Butcher of Beirut" for his role in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
Telling Tzipi Livni, Israel's then foreign minister, on the eve of national elections "I would vote for you" will strike many Palestinians as grovelling of a shameful kind.
It is this tone which will stick in the throat just as much as the substantive concessions on land or, as the Guardian will reveal in coming days, the intimate level of secret co-operation with Israeli security forces or readiness of Palestinian negotiators to give way on the highly charged question of the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Of course it should be said that this cache of papers is not exhaustive and may have been leaked selectively; other documents might provide a rather different impression. Nevertheless, these texts will do enormous damage to the standing of the Palestinian Authority and to the Fatah party that leads it. Erekat himself may never recover his credibility.
But something even more profound is at stake: these documents could discredit among Palestinians the very notion of negotiation with Israel and the two-state solution that underpins it.
And yet there might also be an unexpected boost here for the Palestinian cause. Surely international opinion will see concrete proof of how far the Palestinians have been willing to go, ready to move up to and beyond their "red lines", conceding ground that would once have been unthinkable – none more so than on Jerusalem.
He goes on to say that Israel will be made to look bad by these papers. I disagree. I don't think any of the 'Palestinian' concessions here are so earth shattering - they're largely in line with what most people expected. And I don't think anyone will see Israel in a bad light (except those who already do, which unfortunately is much of the world), because there is so much we are already conceding here, and because what's left unsaid is who put a stop to the 2008 negotiations. We all know the answer to that last question: The 'Palestinians' stopped them when Operation Cast Lead started.
Read the whole thing.
Labels: Abu Ala, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, Tzipi Livni
posted by Carl in Jerusalem @ 4:07 AM