But here are a few thoughts on the matter.
The ‘papers’ appear to be notes taken by Palestinian participants in various meetings with Israeli and US negotiators. Although they are being spun by Aljazeera and the UK Guardian — an organ even more hostile to Israel — as showing that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was prepared to make great concessions to Israel while Israel was rigid and intransigent, the documents so far published on Aljazeera’s site do not appear to show this.
In fact, the commentary by the Guardian and Aljazeera actually seems to attribute well-known Israeli positions to the PA!
What is especially interesting to me is the way the PA is furiously denying any hint that they might be prepared to compromise on anything — borders, Jerusalem, Refugees, etc. They see themselves as under attack by these allegations:
Al-Jazeera has declared war on the Palestinians … This station serves the interests of the enemies of the Palestinians — unnamed ‘Senior PA official’
This is a theater … This is part of a campaign targeting President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA at a time when we are going to the UN Security Council regarding the settlements. — Saeb Erekat, PA negotiator
For once I agree. The public the PA is trying to impress, both Palestinian Arabs and the rest of the Arab world, despise compromise and worship ‘resistance’. Even if the PA wanted to agree that perhaps not every one of the 4-5 million Arabs that claims ‘refugee’ status has an absolute right to ‘return’ to Israel, to say this would be to mark them as clearly inferior to Hamas by the only measure that counts: militancy.
So while the usual suspects like NPR will bleat about how this ‘proves’ that everything is Israel’s fault, the main effect of these documents and their spin will be to hit the PA where it hurts the most, in its credibility in the Arab world as champion of the Palestinian Cause.
The actual documents that I’ve seen have not contained anything new or surprising. It may be that the Guardian and Aljazeera have others which include strategic fabrications, such as placing Israel’s positions in the mouths of Palestinian negotiators. Or it may that the analysts are simply mixed up about who said what. If the actual documents are released, it will ultimately become clear, since the Israelis have notes too.
Of course by that time, as always, the damage will have been done, both major damage to the PA and minor damage to Israel. It’s ironic to see the Palestinians wounded by the same kind of falsehood bomb that they so often throw themselves.
There’s speculation about who did it. Certainly the Iran/Syria/Hizballah/Hamas axis has it in for the PA, and wouldn’t mind screwing Israel in the bargain. Or it could be another Fatah faction: some PA officials are blaming Abbas rival Mahmoud Dahlan.
What is most important here, at least so far, is not what is in the documents, but rather how they are being used — especially in the Arab world.