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Al Jazeera Blockbuster: PA Gave Away the Store, Israel Still Wasn’t Interested

erekat bigger jerusalem
Al Jazeera and The Guardian are jointly publishing the summary of a treasure trove of documents revealing the extraordinary extent to which the PA was willing to sacrifice a huge chunk of the Palestinian national patrimony and agenda for the sake of peace. While Israel (and to an extent, the Bush administration) essentially said: “That’s nice. But not enough.”

This will literally knock your socks off.  The documents (linked below in discreet articles) reveal:

The scale of confidential concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators, including on the highly sensitive issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

• How Israeli leaders privately asked for some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state.

• The intimate level of covert co-operation between Israeli security forces and the Palestinian Authority.

• The central role of British intelligence in drawing up a secret plan to crush Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

• How Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders were privately tipped off about Israel’s 2008-9 war in Gaza.

As well as the annexation of all East Jerusalem settlements except Har Homathe Palestine papers show PLO leaders privately suggested swapping part of the flashpoint East Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah for land elsewhere.

Most controversially, they also proposed a joint committee to take over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City – the neuralgic issue that helped sink the Camp David talks in 2000 after Yasser Arafat refused to concede sovereignty around the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques.

…The concession in May 2008 by Palestinian leaders [would have] allow[ed] Israel to annex the settlements in East Jerusalem – including Gilo…

abbas hamas

You sure don't, baby. But every other Palestinian and the world now will.

Palestinian negotiators practically bragged to the Israelis about how much they were willing to give up for the sake of peace:

…The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, as giving Israel “the biggest Yerushalayim [the Hebrew name for Jerusalem] in history”

But nothing was enough for Israel.  It apologetically said it appreciated the Palestinian sacrifice but:

…The offer was rejected out of hand by Israel because it did not include a big settlement near the city Ma’ale Adumim as well as Har Homa and several others deeper in the West Bank, including Ariel. “We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands,” Israel’s then foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, told the Palestinians, “and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it“.

Oh and you remember all that hope liberal Zionists (and even me I confess) harbored that Tzipi Livni offered a pragmatic alternative to Bibi and that SHE could and would negotiate a settlement if offered power–all smashed to bits by revelations like this.  Tzipi was no better than Olmert nor Bibi.  She just talked nicer and sounded more reasonable.

Here is the overall summary of the tone of the documents by the Guardian reporters:

The overall impression that emerges from the documents, which stretch from 1999 to 2010, is of the weakness and growing desperation of PA leaders as failure to reach agreement or even halt all settlement temporarily undermines their credibility in relation to their Hamas rivals; the papers also reveal the unyielding confidence of Israeli negotiators and the often dismissive attitude of US politicians towards Palestinian representatives.

So let’s try to assess the meaning of this bombshell.  The PA is toast and this former PLO representative says as much in this Guardian column.  Perhaps it will still retain support in the West Bank, which is its base.  But Fatah leaders were willing to give away the store and get virtually nothing in return.  What’s more, even the huge amount it offered wasn’t enough.  Israel wanted it all.

barak pinocchio

Barak as Pinocchio proclaiming "no partner" (Biderman)

Israel had a partner all along.  But it was the Palestinians who had no partner.  Israel’s motto: “Peace on our terms, or no terms.”  Israel acted as if it had won WWII and could dictate terms to the vanquished foe.  Olmert and Israelis may live to regret that they didn’t make peace on these unbelievably generous terms.

In terms of Palestinian leadership, these papers prove the bankruptcy of the notion that an unelected rump Palestinian entity can negotiate a satisfactory deal on behalf of the Palestinian people.  The Bush administration and Israeli policy to torpedo the 2006 elections and stand in the way of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation has been a disaster.  The only way to find an accomodation acceptable to the majority of Palestinians is with a representative elected body that ratifies such negotiation results.

If Abbas and his cronies had any honor they’d resign en masse and leave Israel to resume full Occupation of the West Bank (or barring that negotiate a real resolution with real Palestinian leaders).  But the current PA leaders are as survival oriented as Bibi.  They show no devotion to Palestinian national ideals just as Bibi et al show little commitment to anything resembling values or principles.  They just want to keep their fingers in the pie.  For Palestinians an increasingly small, miserly one.  For Israelis an increasingly larger and tastier one.

And can you believe that Israel had the temerity to ask the PA to accept forced transfer of Israeli Palestinian citizens to the new Palestinian state, Avigdor Lieberman’s population transfer (aka expulsion) agenda?

The documents are a boon for Hamas, which has always prided itself on steadfastness to the Palestinian national agenda.  Hamas will appear the only Palestinian movement which hasn’t compromised with Israel, the only one which wasn’t willing to sell its people out for a mess of porridge.  Even if you hate Hamas, you will have to admit it comes out of this smelling like a rose.  And who do we have to blame for this?  Bush and Olmert, no one else.

Olmert is shown to be a total liar when he trumpeted claims that he made the Palestinians a generous offer of 92% of Palestine, which they refused.  Actually, it was Olmert who couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver.

The new development augurs poorly for any serious peace efforts by the Obama administration.  You now have an even more intransigent Israeli government in power than the one to which all these concessions were offered.  And you have a PA which will be mortified that it was exposed with its pants down.  Peace talks are dead.  Dead as a doornail.  Bibi wins big time.  He can now go about building, occupying, assassinating and engaging in war with virtually any party he wishes as long as he wishes.  He holds the cards.  The PA and Obama got bupkis.  And how will the other Arab governments in the Middle East react to American diplomacy used so haphazardly and to such little effect?

But perhaps, just perhaps not all is lost.  There are initiatives that will be strengthened by this failure.  All the alternative peacemaking efforts such as BDS will look even more attractive than ever since they are not tarnished by politicians’ dithering and compromises.  But even more important, I think the idea of an imposed settlement looks not only feasible, but perhaps the only hope.  I can foresee the Quartet, EU and UN Security Council devising a settlement with the input, but not veto power, of the parties and imposing it on them along with provisions that offer security to both sides.  It’s becoming clearer and clearer that this is not an option, but rather a necessity.  The last hope.

For those who like inside baseball, who spilled the beans?  Who leaked these documents?  My money says it was one of the members of the Palestinian negotiation support unit (NSU), a special British-funded entity that provided research, analysis and strategic background for the Palestinian side in its negotiations with Israel.  The Guardian says that many members of this unit have quit, growing disaffected by the sheer magnitude of what their bosses were willing to concede while getting little or nothing in return.  One of these individuals would have a strong motive to embarrass the PA negotiators.  Also, it appears that the bifurcated nature of the NSU (working for the PA but funded by Britain) allowed for mixed allegiances not necessarily fully committed to the PA interests.

In effect, the Guardian may’ve inadvertently blown the cover of the leaker with this statement:

The bulk of the documents are records, contemporaneous notes and sections of verbatim transcripts of meetings drawn up by officials of the Palestinian negotiation support unit (NSU), which has been the main technical and legal backup for the Palestinian side in the negotiations.

Read all the Guardian’s Palestine Papers and an overview of all Guardian stories written about the Papers.  Al Jazeera provides a different lens on the same documents.

{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Strelnikov January 23, 2011, 6:15 PM

    This is the Wikileaks transparency revolution….The Israeli government can no longer say “we have no rational partner for peace talks” because the PA was willing to give away most of its half of Jerusalem. Meanwhile I think this says a lot about the screwed-up priorities of the Bush regime; war becomes peace, and the only good settlement is the totally humiliating settlement.

    • Bandolero January 23, 2011, 7:06 PM

      >The Israeli government can no longer say “we have no
      >rational partner for peace talks” because the PA was willing
      >to give away most of its half of Jerusalem.

      The problem is, as Richard Silverstein says, the Israeli government will do exactly this. They will say now, when PA crashes after the Palestine Papers revealed, that they have no partner for peace anymore. They may say, yes, they had a partner for peace in earlier times, but now, there is no peace partner anymore, so Israel needs to act unilaterally, building settlements for it’s security.

      The big question is: will the US and the EU let Israel get away with this? Or will they finally start sanction Israel instead of Hamas?

  • Linda J January 23, 2011, 9:39 PM

    “The big question is: will the US and the EU let Israel get away with this? Or will they finally start sanction Israel instead of Hamas??”

    could this be your answer?

    link to english.ahram.org.eg

    • john welch January 23, 2011, 10:55 PM

      Let’s hope so. Maybe the shock would wake up Israeli politicians. The US cannot go on forever protecting the decision by each Israeli government to choose perpetual occupation of the West Bank. It’s like encouraging a heroin addict.

    • Gene Schulman January 23, 2011, 11:03 PM

      Give me a break. Anyone who thinks Obama will not follow AIPAC’s orders must still believe in Santa Clause. The US and the EU are complicit in everything Israel does.

    • Richard Silverstein January 24, 2011, 12:14 AM

      Of course he’s going to veto the anti-settlement Security Council resolution. The NYT says the U.S. so far hasn’t even engaged in any discussions about the lang. of the resolution, which is usually a sure sign it isn’t interested in having it see the light of day. Ergo, VETO.

  • duck January 24, 2011, 12:49 AM

    I’m confused. They went into almost all the details of the touchy jerusalem issue, and conceded almost everything to israel, but they wouldn’t give up the major settlements?

    No israeli leader could ever give up ariel and ma’ale edumim. Livni can’t be blamed for that. More curiously, livni warns that the longer talks take, the more settlements will be built. Assuming this isn’t a threat, this means that the gov’t has very little control over that matter.

    Ofc these whole negotiations are a sham. The PA has nothing to offer. Israel has nothing to gain. This is all a matter of the occupier ceasing to occupy. With no moral guidelines, the only reason for israel to give back anything is outside pressure.

    I think that the world (and the israeli opposition) should let go of the whole “peace process” and start concentrating on human rights, rather than national rights. This is a much more pressing issue, and somewhat easier to adress.

    • Richard Silverstein January 24, 2011, 12:52 AM

      Maale Adumim isn’t even complete. Why couldn’t they give it up? Besides it will strangle any East Jerusalem in relation to the rest of the West Bank if it is to be the capital of Palestine. Not that this is a reason Israel should’ve been willing to give it up…

      • duck January 24, 2011, 5:21 AM

        Adumim has 35000 residents, and it’s “in the national consensus”. It can’t be parted from israel. No PM could get support for that. Problem is, israel is hard at work strangling e.jerusalem even more.

        • Koshiro January 24, 2011, 8:36 AM

          Screw the “national consensus”. What’s lacking is a firm voice telling the Israelis that either they modify their “national consensus”, or their “national consensus” will have to consent with about minus 5 billion dollars p.a. in direct and indirect aid. I assure you that “national consensus” would instantly embrace the money and ditch the settlement.

          Oh by the way, one nice thing to come out of this: Whenever some stupid hasbarists brings up “But why can’t Jews stay as Palestinian citizens?”, we can now answer: Because Israel doesn’t want it.

          • duck January 24, 2011, 12:28 PM

            “instantly embrace the money”

            I doubt it. While economic pressure could eventually break israel, it would be far from easy or instant. The israeli notion of being better than the rest of the world is even more powerful than the support for settlements. Many, if not most, israelis would easly give up american aid just to “keep face”.

            “israel doesn’t want it.”

            Ofcourse israel doesn’t want it. Aside from that though, why can’t jews stay as palestinian citizens? It’s not a terribly good idea, but it could work.

          • Deïr Yassin January 24, 2011, 1:16 PM

            # Duck}
            “But why can’t Jews stay as Palestinian citizens ? It’s not a terribly good idea but it could work”
            Yes, particularly if it’s combined with the Palestinian ROR to their places of origin, also within the State of Israel, of course.

          • Koshiro January 27, 2011, 3:59 AM

            “Aside from that though, why can’t jews stay as palestinian citizens?”

        • Shirin January 24, 2011, 8:25 PM

          It can’t be “parted from Israel”? It isn’t any part of Israel except in the twisted fantasies of Israelis.

          • duck January 25, 2011, 6:51 AM

            What a constructive comment…

            Fact is, support for keeping maale edumim in israel is considerably greater than support for smaller, more extreme places like tapuach or tekouah.

          • Vicky January 25, 2011, 8:29 AM

            There may be much more support for keeping Ma’ale Adumim than there is for retaining the ‘extreme’ places, but I don’t think that current Israeli public opinion is a just foundation for peace, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. The rationale for retaining Ma’ale Adumim is illogical and ugly: we want to keep it because it is very large (and sizeable land grabs are more palatable than small ones) and its occupants go about the process of theft and dispossession in a pleasant manner (as opposed to that strident bunch in the Hebron hills, who make far too much noise over it).

            This reasoning does become logical when you put it in context. Israel has been justifying ethnic cleansing and widescale theft for over sixty years (and sometimes not even bothering to justify it). The result is a culture of brazen entitlement, which sees large segments of the Israeli public behaving as though they are being generous and noble in offering the Palestinians a few tattered strips of land in order to make up a state. Since I became involved in aid work I have begun to wonder if we’re being premature in even thinking about one state or two states or anything like that – negotiations over land and citizenship are unlikely to be successful until Israelis realise that they are not making some bountiful gesture, but basic restitution.

          • duck January 25, 2011, 11:56 PM

            “until Israelis realise that they are not making some bountiful gesture, but basic restitution.”

            That might just take too long…

            For now, we may have to settle for “current Israeli public opinion”, as unjust as it is.

    • Haver January 24, 2011, 7:17 AM


      It really won’t profit the Palestinians for everyone to drop the conversation about their agreed upon right to statehood and move on to a much more abstract discussion about national or human rights. Only “States” have access and standing to a few effective and enforceable judicial remedies when their rights are violated.

      While Nations and humans are “objects” or “subjects” of international law, they do not have the standing of a High Contracting Party. So, the Courts are not directly available to them, unless a complaint is taken-up by a State official. For example, US citizens cannot file complaints alleging that their rights under the Geneva Conventions have been violated by another country in the US Courts. Only the US government can file such a complaint. It is unlikely the current administration would do that for the US members of the Gaza Aid Flotilla. There is no statute of limitations and time works changes.

      Professor James Crawford recently noted in the Kosovo case that we are all subjects of international human rights law, but that to be a subject of international law says nothing at all about the content of our rights and duties. He observed that “It would be odd if human groups were given status as subjects precisely to deny them capacity to become really effective subjects, that is, States.” See CR 2009/32, 10 December 2009, page 55 link to icj-cij.org

      But he was only pointing out something that really isn’t odd at all in order to “paint the Court into a corner”. The Great Powers have always given groups like the Bantu, Kurds, Cherokees, Roma, and Palestinians the status of a “Nation” precisely in order to deny them the status of (Nation-)States.

      The details of these negotiations confirm that Israel is interfering with the rights of the Palestinians to self-determination in exactly the same fashion as South Africa did in the Namibia case. These agreement violate several jus cogens norms and are being negotiated under a constant threat of force. That in itself would render any final agreement concluded between these parties null and void in accordance with Articles 52 & 53 of the Treaty of Vienna. It is time to put a fork in this nonsensical process to nowhere.

      Unlike the Bantustans, Namibia was not part of the final one state solution. The UN created a subsidiary organ and designated it as the provisional government of Nambia. It signed treaties and pursued claims on the State’s behalf. The UN could do the same thing with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

      You may not know or recall, but the first international convention that called for the establishment of an international criminal court was the Apartheid Convention, but no court was established at the time. If a UN provisional government endorsed the Article 12(3) Declaration of the State of Palestine, then the existing complaints of the PA and the League of Arab States on-file with the ICC could be investigated, and the responsible individuals could be prosecuted. There would be no need for the Security Council to refer the Goldstone report, because the Court only needs the consent of the State with territorial jurisdiction to act on that report.

      • duck January 24, 2011, 12:41 PM

        Wow that’s a lot of interesting and complicated information.
        Usually oppressed groups aren’t states, so this state of affairs seems somewhat ridiculus. Doesn’t this mean that the ICC can’t investigate crimes in sudan? Didn’t it?

        Anyway, I didn’t suggest an abstract discussion. I suggested that rather than working to create a palestinian state, a seemingly impossible and clearly time consuming feat, the pressure on israel should be directed at stopping specific rights violations.

        I’m not convinced the ICC can actually help here. Even if it can, declaring a palestinian would hardly make it a reality. So really, this is just step for human, rather than national, rights.

        • Haver January 25, 2011, 8:19 AM

          Duck, corporations and States are simply “persons of law”, not “natural persons”. It is not an impossible task to recognize a legal entity in a Court of law, that happens every day. The majority of states already do recognize the State of Palestine. It can avail itself of their courts, own property, & etc.

          Doesn’t this mean that the ICC can’t investigate crimes in sudan? Didn’t it?

          The ICC is a State-based system, but its criminal jurisdiction is strictly limited to “natural persons” in accordance with Article 25 of the Rome Statute. It only has jurisdiction in the territory of its member states. Populations living in non-state or dependent territories, e.g. Falkland Islands, Puerto Rico, Chagos Archipelago, etc. are not eligible for membership in the Assembly of State Parties and cannot accept the jurisdiction of the Court. Only States with territorial or personal jurisdiction can accept the jurisdiction of the Court on an ad hoc basis in accordance with Article 12(3).

          The UN Security Council is also composed of member States. It can both refer a situation to the ICC in accordance with Article 13(b), and prevent the prosecution of any case indefinitely in accordance with Article 16.

          The war in Darfur broke out in February 2003, the UN belatedly started its own investigation in October of 2004. The Security Council finally referred the situation to the ICC Prosecutor for preliminary investigation in March 2005. link to un.org

          The General Assembly “Definition of Aggression” contained in resolution 3314 (XXIX) (1974) was recently adopted by the Assembly of State parties to the Rome Statute. Article 1 explains that the term “State” is used and applied in the legal definition without regard to questions of recognition or UN membership. So, in theory, any stateless or unrecognized community targeted for aggression may be afforded the protections contained in the UN Charter or the Statute of the Court without having to rely on the intervention of the Security Council. The earliest date that the definition can enter into force is in 2017.

  • John Yorke January 24, 2011, 5:21 AM

    Well, after such voluminous revelations, it would appear that little likelihood for any negotiated settlement to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict now remains. The prospects of that happening, never very promising in the first place, now look even bleaker than before.

    As I’ve been saying all along, the time may be fast approaching for a more autonomous assault upon the problem; a dispensing with negotiators and politicians, turning the issues over to a form of reckoning that will brook of no debate, no back-door diplomacy, no underhand methods.
    It will be as up-front and as hard-edged as the situation itself; no prevarication, no softly-softly approach, no underhand methods. A knock-down, drag-out procedure that actually delivers a result at long last, leaving no room for compromise and even less for circumvention.

    As I’ve often said to many customers over a career as an engineer spanning 40 and more years:

    ‘Come on; time to make up your mind. Do you want this thing fixed or not?
    Because there is no way on God’s earth that it’s ever going to be able to fix itself.’

  • Vicky January 24, 2011, 9:37 AM

    “Oh and you remember all that hope liberal Zionists (and even me I confess) harbored that Tzipi Livni offered a pragmatic alternative to Bibi and that SHE could and would negotiate a settlement if offered power…”

    Richard, I think the Israeli political scene is summed up nicely by the closing lines of Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

    “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

  • Shirin January 24, 2011, 6:02 PM

    …the PA was willing to sacrifice a huge chunk of the Palestinian national patrimony and agenda for the sake of peace.

    Haven’t read the documents yet, and may never have time to read them all, but I know those scoundrels, and would be willing to bet a very great deal that it was not for the sake of peace they were willing to betray those whom they purport to represent. Why do people think so many Palestinians, including no small number of Christians, voted for Hamas in 2006? It wasn’t because they trusted the PA to look after the Palestinian people’s interests.

    • Richard Silverstein January 25, 2011, 12:04 AM

      You’re right. I shouldn’t have presumed that the goal of Abbas et al was peace. They sold their souls for an agreement, which they thought would make them heroes & prolong their rule. They prob. hoped for peace as well. But prolonging their power was just as important to them or moreso than securing peace.

  • Kalea January 24, 2011, 6:37 PM

    I hope the PA implodes over this and the fallout falls right in Israel’s lap.

    Israel is solely responsible for this disastrous outcome.

    Greed for land, plain and simple.

  • Rana January 24, 2011, 7:54 PM

    Lack of confidence in the Palestinian leadership is nothing new, don’t act so shocked. The real story is Israel’s facade about “painful concessions” and “no Palestinian Peace Partner”.

    Edward Said, October 1993, The Morning After, The London Review of Books
    link to lrb.co.uk

  • Tariku Hussein January 26, 2011, 12:50 PM

    It is cheap and not at all brave of you, Richard Silverstein, to be so harsh on the PA. It is not your bones that are being crushed here, if it were, perhaps you would also be more willing to concede. Consider the possibility that they are anxious to give their people a future, ANY future, in the wake of a horribly strong enemy.

    However, you are certainly right that the “peace process” has now been revealed as a charade and deserves to be declared dead, now there must be a period of struggle, and I think the most effective one would be under the banner of the one-state solution and the simple, positive slogan of “equality, rights for all, one man one vote”. Nobody needs to live behind barbed wire, and nobody needs to be pushed into the sea. And eventually, coalitions of moderates from both sides would govern the new “Israstine” — though I don’t think the upcoming struggle should be concerned with changing the name and flag of the country. The first demand should be Israeli passports and full citizens’ right to all Palestinians in the West Bank, no less. This demand is so logical and simple to understand that it will put Israel seriously on the defensive, and then perhaps BDS can add to the pressure.

    • Shirin January 26, 2011, 1:20 PM

      It is cheap and not at all brave of you, Richard Silverstein, to be so harsh on the PA. It is not your bones that are being crushed here…

      Nor is it the PA’s bones that are being crushed. Most of them are living high on the hog, drunk with power, and more than a little bit willing to collaborate with Israel to keep their power nice lifestyles. That is the chief reason Hamas outdid them in the 2006 election. Palestinian people were sick to death of the Fatah-dominated PA’s corruption, collaboration, and brutality in the name of acting as protectors of Israeli security, and Hamas was the only real alternative.

      if it were, perhaps you would also be more willing to concede.

      No one who supposedly represented the Palestinian people and who had any integrity at all would ever be willing to concede the Palestinian people’s very patrimony, not at any price, and particularly not when that is clearly not what the Palestinian people want.

      Consider the possibility that they are anxious to give their people a future, ANY future, in the wake of a horribly strong enemy.

      Give me a nanosecond. OK, I considered it, and found the notion risible. What possible future would “their people” have in a series of isolated bantustans surrounded on all sides by a hostile entity, and dependent upon that entity for everything. That “future” sounds an awful lot like the present, in fact, except that they might – maybe, but not necessarily – have some sort of strictly nominal thing they could laughably call “self-rule”. You might find an oddball Palestinian here and there who won’t say “thanks, but no thanks” to that as their future, but they would be few and far between.

    • Richard Silverstein January 26, 2011, 2:16 PM

      I understand the sacrifices & suffering all palestinians endure. But the suffdring of gaza is far far more severe than anythingfaced by the pa ot the west bank. It seems to me u have to make a political calculus in negotiations like this of benefits & costs & that the pa miscalculated in a big way.

      I’m not the only one who’s being overly harsh here. You have but to read coverage in al jazeera or the arab world to read things far harsher.

      • Shirin January 26, 2011, 2:30 PM

        Agree big time regarding Gaza vs the West Bank. However, I repeat that the PA folks aren’t suffering even a little bit. For the most part they are sitting pretty playing power games with the U.S. and Israel, and enjoying the hell out of it. They care not at all about the deprivation and suffering going on around them, most of which, including in Gaza, they themselves cause and/or exacerbate as they scramble to stay on the good side with Israel and the U.S. It is actually in their personal interest to have this thing continue to drag along until Israel is finally satisfied with what it has. After that they will become Israel’s agents in the “Newborn Palestinian State”, which will make South African bantustans look like a good deal.

      • Tariku Hussein January 27, 2011, 10:06 AM

        @Richard, of course, the Palestinians have a right to be angry and shout “traitors” and so on, if they feel misrepresented. But it is deeply unbecoming for people like you in the solidarity movement to tell other people who have struggled in vain for so long that they must be tough and uncompromising, or else can be branded as traitors.

        @Sirin, it is simply unfair to say that, just because these negotiators may have more money than average Palestinians, they and their relatives are not suffering.

        Perhaps there is another twist to this: Perhaps the Palestinian negotiators already knew that Israel would not accept no matter what, so these far-reaching concessions were mainly aimed at exposing how Israeli greed and not Palestinians intransigence is what has wrecked the ill-named “peace process”.

        • Shirin January 27, 2011, 11:06 AM

          Perhaps the Palestinian negotiators already knew that Israel would not accept no matter what, so these far-reaching concessions were mainly aimed at exposing how Israeli greed and not Palestinians intransigence is what has wrecked the ill-named “peace process”.

          Yeah, right. Either you don’t know much about those scoundrels, or you are one of their lead apologists.

          As for they and their relatives not suffering, give me a break. I KNOW some of those guys, and I know even more of their relatives, and they are not suffering. They are corrupt bastards who have found collaboration and brutalizing the people they claim to represent more advantageous to themselves than actually upholding the needs, rights, and wishes of the Palestinian people. If you are unaware of that, then you don’t have a clue what is going on and should be listening and learning instead of talking.

          Unless, of course, you really are one of their hired apologists.

        • Richard Silverstein January 27, 2011, 1:19 PM

          That’s nonsense. It is other Palestinians who are voicing these views. I am saying nothing more than they. And if you’re claiming i must muzzle myself out of some vague sense of solidarity, sorry i don’t do that. I don’t agree when pro israel types try the same argument vis avis israel.

          • Tariku Hussein January 27, 2011, 7:03 PM

            @Shirin, if you are interested in an exchange of views, make some arguments, present your evidence, instead of sermonising and calling ugly names. A “hired apologist”, hahaha, that’s funny, but again, it’s not really an argument. The PA’s legitimacy is surely an exciting topic for a frank debate, but your final “lecturing” note makes it very clear that you are not interested in such a thing, fine, have a nice day.

            @Silverstein, you also reject “the same argument vis-a-vis Israel”??? What, do you also brand Israelis as “traitors” for conceding too much for your liking? I think not, so talk of “nonsense”, certainly your imagination in making weird comparisons is beyond my humble comprehension.

            You are, of course, entitled to state your opinion as to wanting the Palestinians to fight rather than concede, I am just saying that, while your intentions and sympathy with the Palestinian cause is no doubt authentic and well-meaning, many Palestinians living under occupation will see it as unbecoming of you to demand a more uncompromising stance in a conflict to which you are an outsider. Frankly, it smacks a bit of the romance of supporting Palestinian rights being of greater importance than the reality of those rights being trampled down. It is not like Palestinians love the idea of being a romantic lost cause, you know. Perhaps they prefer a normal life under second-best circumstances and pinning their hope more on making national borders and ethnic distinctions less relevant in the future.

            What I will agree with you is that the Palestinian people must decide that by a fair vote.

          • Richard Silverstein January 27, 2011, 7:59 PM

            do you also brand Israelis as “traitors” for conceding too much for your liking?

            I only wish Israel had such a leader and such a problem. Alas, it doesn’t & hasn’t for quite some time if ever. So the problem isn’t Israeli leaders selling their countrymen & women out since Israel holds most of the cards. That makes it more important for Palestinian leaders to be steadfast. You’ve heard of that concept, no? Or have you forgotten it? I didn’t say the Palestinians should “fight.” You did. I think they should hold as fast as they can to as many of their principles as they can. I think that time, justice & history is & will be on their side. I didn’t say embrace a maximalist position & never retreat fr. it. Nor did I say to give Israel the store as the PA has done. Something in between should work fine. But that’s not what Erekat & Abbas were doing & you know it.

            many Palestinians living under occupation will see it as unbecoming of you

            In fact precisely ZERO Palestinians have said this & I presume due the way you formulated yr statement that you aren’t one. If you are, then that makes precisely ONE Palestinian who’s derided me as you have. That’s not a terribly large number if you’ll pardon my saying. You could include Ibish in this and that would make two, but he’s not Palestinian either, now is he?

            it smacks a bit of the romance of supporting Palestinian rights

            Don’t talk to me of things that smack of romance. There’s no romance in Occupation or anything I write about it. The only think smacking here is the nonsense you’ve attempted to pass off as sensible criticism.

            It is not like Palestinians love the idea of being a romantic lost cause, you know.

            And you think the deal Erekat & Abbas would’ve had to sell to the Palestinians if they’d gotten Israel to sign it would NOT have seemed a lost cause to those asked to accept it?

            I am frankly astonished that West Bankers haven’t ridden the PA out of town on a rail by now. Either the PA security apparatus has the place sown up tight or the West Bankers are so desperate they prefer the failed politicians they have to the ones they don’t yet know.

  • Tariku Hussein January 28, 2011, 5:13 AM

    You say you are “not asking them to fight”, so what on earth are they supposed to do??? Just sit back and wait for their land to be swallowed up by walls and settlements? Wait for their water to be redirected away from their olive trees towards Zionist swimming pools?

    No, the end of negotiations leads only one way, and that is for a defeated and persecuted people without an army and without international sponsors to take up war against a well-oiled war machinery backed by the number one superpower. What you are asking the Palestinians living under occupation to do is not only to fight, but to fight under hopeless odd, to fight to death. This, I repeat, could be valid cry from the oppressed, if they prefer a brave death to giving up parts of East Jerusalem, but let me remind you: it is not YOUR death, and YOUR civil rights we are talking about. It is inappropriate, for anyone not living under Israeli occupation to tell these people when they should fight and when they should negotiate. I would say the same thing if you were a Palestinian living in the US. In general, the diaspora of any nation tends to be more radical than those who stayed at home and have to confront the consequences, only that your case is rather the opposite, since your tribal identity takes second place to your conscience, and I appreciate that very, very much, but do not take it to the opposite extreme.

    There are, of course, as many views on this as there are Palestinians, but interestingly, you declare that you are “astonished” the Palestinians have not chased the PA out of town. Well, there you have it. The Palestinians have a wry sense of reality. They call the peace process the surrender process (“peace” and “surrender” have similar sounds in Arabic). They know that stone-throwing and even suicide attacks will only get them so far. Of course, noboby in the Palestinian camp likes to concede a host of basic rights and stolen land, but they have an understanding of the sad lack of alternatives, so only a few of them try to blame it on the PA. The vast majority of Palestinians just want to get on with their lives, get a passport and freedom of movement, be able to start a business and own property without fear. Who are you to tell them they should rather die defending the cause you fell in love with from the other side of the earth?

    • Richard Silverstein January 28, 2011, 10:11 PM

      Just sit back and wait for their land to be swallowed up by walls and settlements?

      Their land has ALREADY been swallowed up by walls & settlements. Abbas was willing to ratify these thefts in his deal. Whatever final deal is agreed to will involve Israel returning a lot of land & a lot of settlements. The longer it takes for an agreement & the more Israel steals the more it will return.

      You may not realize that Abbas is quoted in today’s NY Times saying:

      “I answered him [Netanyahu] that the occupation for me is better than your solution.”

      Precisely my own view. But not yours apparently.

      the end of negotiations leads only one way, and that is for a defeated and persecuted people without an army and without international sponsors to take up war

      This is nonsense. YOU are the one who says the Palestinians are “defeated.” Neither the Palestinians nor I believe that. Israel can never defeat the Palestinians. As for taking up war: how? With what? A third Intifada? I doubt it. Did I ask anyone to fight, let alone fight to the death? More nonsense. If you want to impute views to me don’t impute ones I don’t hold. I don’t take kindly to such distortion.

      Time is on the Palestinians side. War will not gain them their goal. But resistance and time will.

      it is not YOUR death, and YOUR civil rights we are talking about.

      Nor is it yours. I note you didn’t dispute my guess that you aren’t Palestinian yrself. So what gives yr views any more precedence than mine? Are you the one who’s going to be killed on the line at Bilin? Didn’t think so.

      It is inappropriate, for anyone not living under Israeli occupation to tell these people when they should fight

      It is inappropriate for you, not living under Occupation, to tell me or tell the Palestinians that they should give up their rights under a fake leadership like the PA. Has anyone appointed you their official spokesperson?

      In general, the diaspora of any nation tends to be more radical than those who stayed at home

      This generalization is so full of wholes it’d sink if you put it in water. Is Hamas less radical than the views of the Palestinian Diaspora? Is Moshe Feiglin less radical than the average American Jew?

      your tribal identity takes second place to your conscience

      That isn’t true at all in my case. My Jewish identity is fully integrated with my conscience. And I assume that is true of many Palestinians both inside & in the Diaspora.

      only a few of them try to blame it on the PA

      Only a few Palestinians blame the PA for their sorry state? Why don’t we have an election & see how many Palestinians will place blame where it should be & vote the rascals out.

      Who are you to tell them they should rather die defending the cause you fell in love with from the other side of the earth?

      I never told anyone to die for anything. And I never fell in love with the “Palestinian cause.” My views about Palestine are totally informed by the mutual interests of Israel & Palestine. As Dr. Abuelaish said last week here, Palestine & Israel are conjoined twins. They cannot live without ea. other. I am in love with justice, not a particular national cause. If anything (& I have to be honest here) I love the Jewish cause more than any other. But I don’t love it to the exclusion of justice. I’d have you again not impute views to me I don’t hold and have never espoused.

      We are done with this thread & discussion. Please if you wish to continue commenting do so on another subject in another thread.

  • Tarik Hussein February 14, 2011, 5:18 PM

    Richard, I never wrote that my views “take precedence” over yours, and I also do not take kindly to such distortions, though I forgive you since it seems to stem from some complex of yours. The point is: It is YOU, not ME, who are asking, nay, DEMANDING that the Palestinians suffering under a brutal occupation with no end in sight be tough and uncompromising, on pain of YOU calling them “traitors”, not me. That is the difference between us, not our respective backgrounds, which are, of course, irrelevant to any meaningful exchange of views.

    • Richard Silverstein February 14, 2011, 6:15 PM

      I think you’re missing something. I don’t really care what the Palestinians agree to regarding peace with Israel. But I have a sense of what the broad mass of Palestinians WOULD accept. And what disturbed me is that what Erakat & the cronies were offering was so out of synch w. what my general impression of what the average Palestinian would accept, that I blanched. If the mass of Palestinians is willing to accept the Erakat-Abbas proposals then more power to ’em. I don’t have any right to object. But if what they were offering Israel was hugely diff. than what the mass of Palestinians would be willing to offer, then there’s a massive disconnect & the “leadership” wasn’t leading, but wandering off into the desert. I think Erakat’s resignation confirms what I’m saying. And I think it further confirms the death knell to this iteration of the peace process.

      • Tarik Hussein February 15, 2011, 6:31 AM

        I agree wholeheartedly that it is up to the Palestinian people and that Erakat’s resignation was an honourable thing to do. I object to the term “traitor” about Palestinians who accept painful concesssions, but this does not mean that I think the concessions were right, just that as an outsider, I have no right to question them in those terms.

  • Tarik Hussein February 14, 2011, 5:25 PM

    PS:And forgive me I had to have a last very short word above. To end on a positive note, what attracted me to your website is that Í strongly admire people like you who put their conscience before their tribe.

    • Richard Silverstein February 14, 2011, 6:18 PM

      Thanks for that, but again I see it a little differently. I don’t see myself putting my conscience before my tribe, though if you forced me to choose on pain of death I might. I see my views as consonant with my tribe AND my conscience. The fact that so many of my tribe hold views opposite to mine doesn’t mean to me that my views are outside those of my tribe. It means I have to fight harder to make myself heard & my views known & persuasive to them.

  • Tarik Hussein February 15, 2011, 6:27 AM

    You are right, I do not mean that you should give up your tribal affiliation, indeed, you should be proud of your Jewish as well as your US identity, just as I am proud of being an Ethiopian-Danish Muslim, though I often take issue with religious intolerance and oppression of women among my own people. Thanks for your excellent blog.

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