The Palestine Papers- PA ‘betrayal’?

Posted: 27/01/2011 in Palestine

It has been a few days since Al-Jazeera began releasing the official documents and minutes of meetings pertaining to the Israeli/Palestinian ‘peace’ process, during which time I have received various requests from friends and family as to the reaction of Palestinians in the West Bank. While media agencies have been focusing on the potential explosiveness of this unfettered access to negotiations held behind closed doors, the reaction on the streets of the West Bank do not appear to reflect the magnitude of the geo-political controversy created by the papers’ release.

The general attitude here has so far tended towards ‘disappointed, but far from surprised’. For people unfamiliar with the ‘diplomatic’ processes Palestinians have been subjected to for decades, some may find this lack of reaction unclimactic, particularly at a time when the middle east appears to be sparked with revolutionary spirit. However upon further viewing of the realities created by processes such as the Oslo agreement, these revelations come as just yet another example of the ongoing marginalisation of an indigenous people who have been denied any processes of self determination for more than a century. From the time of the Balfour treaty and promises of a sovereign state, to the establishment of the state of Israel, Jordanian occupation, war, the drawing of the ‘Green Line’ and Israeli occupation and siege, the fate and viability of the creation of an autonomous, internationally recognized Palestinian entity have always been at the feet of colonialist agendas. As such, Palestinians are understandably underwhelmed by these revelations, they were sold down the river by all sides a long time ago.

Although there has been no unified public response the papers, there have been 3 incidences which suggest that the papers’ release may further the existing internal divisions and threaten media freedoms in the region. First there was the attempted storming of the Al-Jazeera offices in Ramallah, followed by a raid on the PalMedia Agency offices in Nablus who had hosted an Al-Jazeera crew for an interview, this culminated when the house of the PalMedia Director was fired upon later that day.

Although I fully endorse the release of any documents that increase the transparency of political mechanisms, I am concerned with how this information will be interpreted and used. The best case scenario I can currently imagine does not in fact include any hoped reactions from Palestinians themselves, but rather the reactions of the international community. With the information contained in these papers I hope that the International community will be able to fully comprehend the duplicity and hypocrisy of in particular the US and British governments in their roles as diplomatic mediators and facilitators. I hope also that people can begin to realize that a ‘just solution’ to the situation is not in the interests of a Zionist Israel. This concept is particularly evident in conversations between Livni and Erekat, and raises the question of why, with an offer giving away all but the entirety of Jerusalem, the number of returning refugees reduced to a symbolic number, and generous land swaps allowing Israel to keep the majority of its illegal settlements, would a peace seeking Israel refuse an agreement?

They wouldn’t.

The other question that arises is then, with the PA ultimately bowing to Israel’s demands on all of the most contentious issues, what is it that Israel wants? The answer to this question is embedded in the minutes of every meeting with Israeli representatives, so far however the international community has not been ready to hear it. The longest standing myth in this issue  is western concepts of the nature of the Israeli state. One thing needs to be made clear, the state is an elitist, colonial enterprise, it is Zionist in nature, not Jewish – I will blog further on the nature of the Israeli state at a later date, but for now I will try to stay on topic.

My wildest dreams for the outcome of these papers is that the international community rejects their governments’ policies on the state of Israel: chastising with one hand whilst donating huge sums with the other. Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions can work, Israel would not be able to maintain its reign of terror and subjugation of the Palestinian people without outside funds, on its own it is not sustainable.

Realistically however, I see these papers being used to ridicule the PA as well as providing the names of people upon whom injured parties can exact reprisals. I can also see this leading to increased attacks on non-Fateh media agencies, and increasing civil divisions and unrest.

Final Musing: The PA is corrupt and weak in the face of Israel and often at its – and the US and UK’s – bidding, however highlighting this does not provide any benefit to Palestinian people. If a state of Palestine should ever come into existence there would have to be vast reforms on every level of government, however no such state exists; the first and foremost issue has to be Israeli policies and occupation. If people are shocked at the concessions the PA was willing to make, effectively betraying the Palestinians, why are they not equally shocked that Israel would ask it of them in the first place?  There is little point in damning a puppet government without damning the puppeteers.

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