by Herb Keinon, JPost
With the Palestinian Authority making an international incident over every plan to build in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, a cache of some 1,600 documents –mostly from the Palestinian Negotiating Unit — shows that in 2008 the PA was willing to recognize eventual Israeli control over all those neighborhoods, with the exception of Har Homa.
In dramatic fashion, both Al Jazeera and The Guardian published excerpts Sunday night of what they are calling “The Palestine Papers,” providing details –through the eyes of Palestinians involved in the negotiations — of nearly a decade of talks.
According to The Guardian, the documents were leaked over a period of months to al-Jazeera, and shared with the Guardian, which said it authenticated the bulk of the documents.
According to the paper, the documents, which will be published in coming days, will show the “scale of Palestinian concessions,” including on Jerusalem and on the issue of refugees; the level of Israeli and Palestinian covert security cooperation; how Israeli leaders “privately asked for some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state;” and how British intelligence played a key role in drawing up a plan to crush Hamas.
In addition, the Guardian reported, the documents – not a part of the WikiLeaks dump of US diplomatic cables – will also show that the PA was tipped off about Operation Cast Lead.
Israeli government sources Sunday night refrained from reporting on the documents, saying they needed to see them first.
According to the paper, the PA privately suggested swapping part of Sheikh Jarrah for land elsewhere.
The paper said the offer on Jerusalem was rejected by Israel because the Palestinians insisted on Ma’ale Adumim, Har Homa and several other settlements, such as Ariel. The Palestinians did agree to Israeli annexation of French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Ya’akov, Ramat Shlomo and Gilo.
“We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands,” then foreign minister Tzipi Livni told the Palestinians according to the documents, “and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it”.
According to the documents, Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told Livni, “It is no secret that … we are offering you the biggest Yerushalayim in history. But we must talk about the concept of al-Quds. We have taken your interests and concerns into account, but not all. This is the first time in Palestinian-Israeli history in which such a suggestion is officially made.”
One of the documents is a summary of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer to PA President Mahmoud Abbas on August 31, 2008.
According to the offer, which Israel maintains Abbas never responded to, Israel would annex 6.8% of the West Bank, including the four main settlement blocs: Gus Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, and Ariel, as well as all of the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, including Har Homa, in exchange for 5.5% of Israeli territory elsewhere.
A special road would connect Bethlehem with Ramallah that would bypass east Jerusalem and go around Ma’ale Adumim. East Jerusalem would be divided territorially along the lines of the Clinton parameters, meaning Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, and Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians, with the exception of the “Holy Basin,” whose sovereignty would be negotiated later with the involvement of the US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
On refugees Israel would acknowledge the “suffering” of refugees, but not take responsibility for it, and there would be mention in the agreement of Israeli or Jewish “suffering.”
Israel would take in 1,000 refugees a year for five years on “humanitarian grounds, and would contribute to compensation of refugees “based on suffering.”
This package made no mention of the Jordan Valley, nor of Israel’s security requirements.
PA leaders also mentioned the possibility of a one-state solution. At one meeting, Erekat said that if Israel does not stop building in the settlements, “we will announce one state and struggle for equality in the State of Israel.”