Palestine papers: America's approach to peace talks 'a failed policy'?
The Palestine papers, leaked documents purporting to reveal details of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, may create obstacles to ongoing talks – or sweep away failed strategies and allow new progress.
The 'Palestine papers' released Sunday by Al Jazeera – leaked documents suggesting Palestinians were prepared make sweeping concessions on East Jerusalem, "right of return" demands, and other long-time sticking points in negotiations – are unlikely to make life easier for anyone.Skip to next paragraph
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The Palestinian leadership is likely to retreat at least for a time into intransigence, some Middle East analysts say, given the widespread perception in the Arab world that the documents – most dating from 2008 – show the Palestinians prepared to give away too much.
Israel, its international image already tarnished by its return to settlement construction, will see that image darken further as critics may see the documents as confirmation that Israel never has been serious about reaching a two-state solution.
But the documents’ release may cause the most trouble for US-led peace talks.
The released documents revealing surprisingly generous Palestinian offers going unanswered by the government of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Some critics of the US talks say the apparent intransigence of Israel in the face of Palestinian concessions mean that it is simply foolish for the US to continue working on its stated goal of "narrowing differences" – especially when the current Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen as less compromising than Mr. Olmert’s.
In reality, the talks President Obama launched last September stalled well before Al Jazeera’s bombshell, but the Obama administration has continued to insist it is pursuing the talks, though for the time being in an indirect format. “The U.S. remains focused on a two-state solution and will continue to work with the parties to narrow differences on core issues,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement Sunday.
“That [State Department] statement would not have passed the laugh test even before these documents came out, so it certainly can’t be taken seriously now,” says Daniel Levy, director of the Middle East task force at the New America Foundation in Washington. These revelations underscore the impossibility that the present approach will achieve a two-state solution, he says. “This is a failed policy.”