by MELANIE PHILLIPS, SPECTATOR —
The fall-out from the Guardian’s Palestine Papers rolls on and on – and still all remains as clear as mud. There are so many potential agendas behind this ‘leak’, and as the days pass the unanswered questions pile up.
I hear from those combing through these materials from a position of knowledge that they contain layer upon layer of distortion and disinformation: even the distorters are being distorted. Claims and counter claims about their authenticity are swirling about. Those who claim they are all authentic have their own agenda and may not even have been present for all or part of the period covered, so we can discount them. It is quite likely that some of the reporting is true and other elements are distortions or fabrications, as Saeb Erekat has now claimed along with the statement that his life is now in danger.
It is still unclear just who stood to gain from this furore. The only thing that is clear is that, whether the core claim about these Palestinian Authority concessions are true or not, these ‘leaks’ have dealt a probably fatal death blow to the PA’s credibility, its chances of survival — already there have been riots in Ramallah — and thus the prospects for the whole appeasement process.
The rest is all murk. The fact remains that there is not one shred of verifiable evidence — merely assertions. There is still no evidence that the Guardian had any basis for its premise that these documents were telling the truth and that the PA had thus offered to give up the Palestinians’ core goals. In a cutting piece, Benny Morris ridicules the paper not only for its apparent credulousness but for hyping up claims whch display a wilful ignorance of history. The Guardian has provided no answers to specific questions about the contradictions or falsehoods in the materials and how they have been so brazenly spun by al Jazeerah, nor the comical confusion that this cache has revealed in the Guardian’s own position on the Middle East.
As Emanuele Ottolenghi writes in his devastating assessment on the Commentary blog:
First, the Guardian appears shocked and angered by the extent of Palestinian concessions on settlements and yet blames Israel for the subsequent impasse on account of … settlements!
…The Guardian hates the revelations in these papers not because they supposedly show that Palestinian leaders were ready to make the necessary concessions for peace and that Israel was intransigent, but because it hates the fact that Palestinians must make any concessions if peace is ever to be achieved.
That is why the real story behind the leaks is not the papers themselves but the Guardian’s agenda for leaking them… The peace process may have been moribund, but surely, after this weekend’s leak, it is dead. The Guardian has just given it the coup de grace and is now busy taking credit for it.
Meanwhile the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs has its own interesting take on the provenance of this material. Similarly wondering just who would have an interest in discrediting the Palestinian Authority so badly, JINSA points the finger at the British government:
The leaked material came from a unit called the, “Palestinian negotiation support unit (NSU), which has been the main technical and legal backup for the Palestinian side in the negotiations. The British government has heavily funded the unit. Other documents originate from inside the PA’s extensive U.S.- and British-sponsored security apparatus. The Israelis, Americans and others kept their own records, which may differ in their accounts of the same meetings.” The NSU, The Guardian notes, “is formally part of the Palestine Liberation Organization” and employs Palestinians. “The role of the NSU in the negotiations has caused tensions among West Bank-based Palestinian leaders and officials, and widespread resentment about the salaries paid to its most senior managers, notably… Andrew Kuhn , who stepped down from running the unit last year.”So the British government (read British intelligence) paid for and organized support of the Palestinians in negotiations and The Guardian announces up front that American and Israeli records of the same meetings may be different. Who knew the British were so heavily involved? Why were they and why would their records be different if everyone was in the same room speaking the same language – English – according to The Guardian. Either concessions were offered or they weren’t.
We’re betting they weren’t.
…There was a heavy British hand in this – Empire dies hard – between the financial and staff support of the NSU and the leak to a British paper. The British Foreign Office has always been implacably hostile to Israel and may have been determined finally to finish establishing the Palestinian Arab state that didn’t emerge at the end of the mess they made of the Mandate for Palestine. The effort was a failure and the price is being paid largely by the Palestinians – nothing new for the British in the Middle East, but you’d think they’d give it up already.
Will we ever know?
Update: Emanuele Ottolenghi has filed another blistering piece on Commentary eviscerating the Guardian.