Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The British Are Still in Palestine

Shoshana Bryen
Senior Director for Security Policy
JINSA Report #: 1,055
January 25, 2011

In an interesting juxtaposition, right after yesterday's JINSA Report about the importance of temperate and truthful words, al Jazeera and The Guardian (UK) announced that leaked documents prove Abu Mazen and Saeb Erekat made far reaching peace proposals to Israel during the left-wing government of Ehud Olmert including Jewish sovereignty over neighborhoods built after 1967 ("It would be the largest Yerushalayim in history," Erekat is supposed to have said.), a consortium including Israel to control the Al Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount, Israel would get the Etzion Bloc, the Palestinians would drop the so-called "right of return", there would be land swaps, and more. In the same documents, the sources reported, then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni denounced her own government for not agreeing.

With the "peace process" a shambles, someone wants to show the Palestinians as moderates, taking "risks for peace" against a nasty, intransigent Israel. Who? Pundits quickly associated the documents with WikiLeaks, but The Guardian itself tells a story in which the British government is strongly implicated.

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 [not a Palestinian, Ed.], 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.

The most obvious outcome of the leaks has been to enhance the already bloody rivalry among Palestinian groups. Fatah called the documents lies, but Hamas called Abu Mazen and Fatah traitors for giving away Palestinian assets. There were riots in Ramallah yesterday and the "Palestinian street" appears very angry.

They should be angry if Fatah was saying privately to Jews precisely the opposite of what it tells its own people every day in every way in Arabic. Abu Mazen has staked out his positions, publicly and adamantly, as Yasser Arafat's three immutable goals:

- An independent Palestinian State without agreeing to legitimate borders for Israel.

The current push to have other countries recognize "Palestine" within the so-called "1967 Borders" enables the Palestinian Authority (PA) to say, "Yes, you agree that the '67 Borders are where we start our country, but we didn't agree that anything to the West of those borders is a sovereign state of Israel." Interestingly, the one concession The Guardian and al Jazeera don't claim Abu Mazen and Erekat made was one to "end the conflict" and/or accept the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in the region. There was no mention of "secure and recognized boundaries" for Israel.

- The capital of Palestine in Jerusalem.

At a minimum, this refers to the part of Jerusalem illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967, but the Palestinians formally and publicly deny Jewish roots in Jerusalem, specifically roots in the Temple Mount area. Erekat would probably choke on the word "Yerushalayim," but more important, the idea that part of Al Quds east of the Mandelbaum Gate could be sovereign Jewish territory would indeed be a betrayal of Arafat and the Palestinian mandate.

- The right of Palestinians who left the area in 1948-1949 and their descendants to move to places west of the 1949 Armistice Line from which they claim to have come.

In no way has the PA prepared its people for compromise and it is hard to find serious evidence that they were planning to compromise on any of the fundamental principles.

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.

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