Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Palestinians: Who Are The Real Peace Partners?

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
28 January '11

The response of many Israelis and Palestinians to "The Palestine Papers" that were exposed by Al-Jazeera has been that the leaked documents actually show that there is a partner on the Palestinian side.

These Israelis and Palestinians argue that the far-reaching concessions that the Palestinian Authority leaders were alleged to have made to Israel -- according to The Palestine Papers -- clearly indicate that Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat, Ahmed Qurei and Salam Fayyad are true partners.

The fact that the Palestinian Authority is prepared to make concessions and help Israel crush Hamas has long been a known secret to most Palestinians.

The first question to ask, however, is not whether Abbas and his associates are partners, but whether the Palestinian Authority leaders can deliver anything.

The other question that needs to be asked is whether Abbas and his negotiators even have a mandate to offer Israel any concessions.

It is no secret that most of the Arab governments do not represent their constituents, at least in regard to making peace with Israel. If Arab leaders seem to be more "moderate" in their views toward the Middle East peace process than their people, it is because these leaders have been telling Westerners what they like to hear.

Even if the Palestinian Authority may be a peace partner, what about the Palestinians?

Has anyone thought about asking Abbas and Erekat what the Palestinians living in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan think about their willingness to offer Israel major concessions?

The Al-Jazeera revelations have seriously embarrassed the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, mainly because they show that Abbas and his negotiators have been telling their people one thing and Israelis and Americans something completely different.

Abbas and his negotiators have been promising Palestinians that there would no concessions whatsoever on core issues such as Jerusalem and refugees. But, as The Palestine Papers have shown, their message to the Israelis, Americans and Europeans has been the exact opposite.

(Read full "The Palestinians: Who Are The Real Peace Partners?")

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