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Leaked 'Palestine Papers' Show Bad Faith Negotiating By Israel and U.S.

What's striking about these documents is the degree to which the U.S. pressures the Palestinians, and how much American diplomats are in cahoots with Israel.

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But many of these things, I think, fit the outlines of what we all knew, partly because people on the Israeli side, on the Palestinian side and the American side have said a great deal about the negotiations, from 1999 certainly through 2008, and the broad lines of these major concessions made by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the broad lines of the intransigence of Israel in simply refusing to accept concessions, or rather, banking concessions and then saying, "Well, now we want more. It’s not enough for you to give up every single settlement in Jerusalem except one; we want all of them. It’s not enough for you to say that you would make concessions inside the Old City of Jerusalem; we want more, as far as the Haram-al-Sharif is concerned." The detail is what is the most striking. And I seriously doubt that, in some cases, somebody went to the trouble of forging things that showed exactly how this process took place. So, I think that we’re going to find that most of these documents probably are genuine.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Khalidi, what most struck you in these documents about the communities that the PA was willing to give up?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, in Jerusalem, there are several issues. One is that the United States, which claims to support the position which is undergirded by international law, that all settlement -- across the Green Line, all settlement in occupied territories is illegal, is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is basically pushing the Palestinians to make concessions on that principle, arguing that you will not have a deal -- I believe this was Secretary Rice -- you will not have a deal unless you give up -- I think they were talking about Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement to the east of Jerusalem, which in fact, apparently, the Palestinians accepted to give up. The point here is, this is Palestinian land, private property in many cases, across the Green Line in territory illegally occupied by Israel and into which Israel has been exporting its population, in violation, again, of the Fourth Geneva Convention. That the United States should support a position in violation of international law might not be terribly shocking, but to see it laid out in this form, I think, calls into question, at the very least, not just the good faith of the American negotiators and of the United States in this process, but the good sense of anyone who would rely on the United States as an interlocutor or an intermediary with Israel.

Other things that were discussed, such as the Haram-al-Sharif, might be very shocking to people in the Arab and Muslim worlds, because it appears that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to some kind of shared sovereignty over one of the three most holy sites in Islam, a property that is a piece of territory that’s not just sacred but is also the property of the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, and have accepted that a committee of international actors, none of whom are particularly sympathetic to the Palestinian side -- Arabia, Britain, the United States and so forth, Egypt and so forth -- should somehow have control over this most holy site in all of Palestine to Muslims. This is pretty shocking.

AMY GOODMAN: And the other report that we have just heard, the Israeli government being cleared in the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the Gaza aid flotilla, last May 31st, Professor Khalidi?

RASHID KHALIDI: Well, I mean, this is entirely expected. An Israeli government-appointed commission, rather than an international commission, a dependent commission appointed by the government, rather than independent of the Israeli government, has come to a conclusion white-washing the government that appointed it. I don’t see why anybody should be surprised. It essentially hewed to exactly the lines of the Israeli propaganda offensive that was launched the very day that this ship was attacked, which argued that the blockade of essential supplies from Gaza, which is a violation of international humanitarian law, is legal, that everything that the Israeli forces that attacked this ship did, including killing nine Turkish, including one Turkish American, citizens was legal. Essentially, this thing was written, or could have been written, insofar as what we’ve seen so far of it, by the same people who are in charge of Israeli spin management. It’s taken them a number of months to produce it, but the Israeli government spokesmen could easily have written this. Almost every key argument in this commission report was put forward by the Israeli government spokesmen at the outset of this affair.

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