The Palestine Papers, a cache of more than 1600 documents on diplomatic peace negotiations leaked to Al-Jazeera and the Guardian constitute end-of-claims blow for the Fatah-dominated Palestinian authority’s claimed strategic position of a much hailed “we won’t sell out”. The damage these documents have caused to the PA’s image is by no means less than the damage they have caused to the people they constantly claimed to represent. The majority of the Palestinians in Gaza had already lost faith in the US-backed authority, and what remained of this faith will come to vanish into thin air after the publication of these documents.
Palestine, the watermelon!
Reenacting one of the episodes of their popular and politically satiric sitcom Watan ala Watar (A Country of a String), the three actors played in the presence of their president, Mahmoud Abbass. Having sliced that watermelon into several portions, and animatedly explained the Palestinians’ loss of their land, they perform the closing scene of the episode.
“Where has Gaza gone?” the student asks, meaning the slice of watermelon representing Gaza.
“Go ask Mashaal where Gaza has gone” The teacher replies.
“Okay, but where is Jerusalem?” She asks again.
“I swallowed it.” He replies.
“Swallowed it? And where is the West Bank?” She continues.
“I swallowed it.” The teacher replies.
“And where the hell is Palestine?” she cries maddeningly.
Pointing at the president, and with an angry rising tone, “You can ask Mr. President where Palestine has gone, sister!”
And the president, the camera focused on him, beams and claps for the lively performance, apparently not taking it seriously, or rather uncomprehending the allegory of the watermelon.
The real Palestine was in no better a condition than Palestine, the watermelon. And the actors did not yet know that it was indeed conceded in meetings behind closed doors. The Jerusalem slice is cut into two by the teacher, who plaintively chops up the small one into pieces not knowing yet that most of which were deliberated to be conceded as well. The reason until this moment is assumingly unknown, for the one defendant present at the court thought it was a joke when he was accused of selling out. Two days later, however, the Palestine Papers came out as an irrefutable substantiated evidence against the same defendant and his aides, mainly Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, and Ahmed Qurei, then PA prime minister, both highly involved in the negotiations covered in the papers, and all they could do about it is attempt to discredit their publishers, cast doubt on the time and reasons behind the release labeling it as “an unambiguous slander campaign aimed at the Palestinian leadership” but never really coming to discuss the core issues and the essential content of the papers. When Erekat had to as he was Ahmed Mansour’s guest on “Without Borders” program broadcast in Arabic on Al-Jazeera, he first tried to appear calm, prevaricated, used his sophism strategies, and all coming to no avail, lastly personalized the matter and barraged the presenter with insults.
The authenticity of the Palestine Papers
Several articles come out discussing the papers credibility which is not ailing an issue taking into account two points: first, Nabil Shaath, Palestinian president’s spokesman, vouched for their veracity when he appeared on Al-Jazeera on the second day of the publications, and second, Erekat, though faltering between the confirmation of their credibility and the denial of it, it was clear he was most disturbed with what he called “taking things out of context” or “not telling the whole truth” time and again striking the example of a verse from the Quraan as to parallel a statement made by him, “We have had to kill Palestinians” as one part and “to establish one authority one gun and the rule of law,” as the remainder.
“106.005: So woe to the worshippers” which makes no sense alone, yet upon completion of the following verse, “107.005: Who are neglectful of their prayers,” would make an entirely different meaning.
That would have been pretty convincing had Al-Jazeera not published the whole archive of documents and put it at the hands of its readers to read them by themselves and make up their own minds, so the full statement is obviously published not part of it as he claims. What Al-Jazeera did, however, is not only the publication of the documents but also presenting them, and through their presentation, they remarkably swayed the minds of their audience putting greater emphasis on one part than the other. In both cases, the PA’s position is weak and indefensible as a brittle out-of-control Erekat proved when he appeared on Al-Jazeera and subconsciously confirmed the authenticity of the documents.
Oppressed, Stateless, Palestinian Refugee’s Reaction
Like any oppressed Palestinian living in the besieged Gaza Strip, daily humiliated and ignored by their authority’s complicity with the oppressor would react to such ignominious revelations when they know their land, holy sites, rights of return are given up by someone who claims to represent them, I availed myself of my arsenal of phrases and swear words accompanied with the most infuriating way, pitch and facial expressions which yet would never alleviate my overwhelming pain and anger. Back in November 1947 when the Palestinians were offered the U.N. 1947 partition plan, they dismissed it, for they believed the whole land is theirs. Twenty years later, in the same month 1967 in the after math of the Six Day War was the U.N. security council resolution 242, and the PLO rejected it saying that “the implementation of said resolution will lead to the loss of every hope for the establishment of peace and security in Palestine and the Middle East region.” However, they backtracked and accepted it as they signed the lamented Oslo accords in 1993 with its basis that the Palestinians have the right to build their own independent state on territories occupied in 1967, almost 21% of historic Palestine. They failed and what’s new is what the Palestine Papers reveal: unprecedented concessions: the abandonment of over 10% of the West Bank including almost all of occupied East Jerusalem, the contentious return of 10,000 refugees met with the scornful Israeli offer of the return of zero, the outrageous, shamefully-admitted security collaboration with Israel to crack down on Palestinian resistance, stalling the Goldstone report into war crimes in Gaza assault in 2008/09. Israel yet would never accept these concessions; can anything be more humiliating?
Such concessions the Palestinian people would never accept or even think of, for he who makes these offers, be he the president, a diplomat, a professor, Hamas or Fatah-affiliated, or whatsoever, is nothing but a traitor, ironically even to Erekat himself.
“Should the people be balloted whether they’d like to sell out their country?” Mansour asks Erekat.
“Shame! Shame! Definitely no.”Erekat answers.
“Then, what are you doing?”
“You first accused me of being a liar, a seller and now a traitor!”Erekat answers.
“I just asked what you’re doing”
“We build a state.”Erekat states.
The disparity between a state and a country is sadly indistinct to Erekat who has been overwhelmingly trying to create it for the past 18 years but failed. All I’ve got to tell him, being a Palestinian living in the besieged Gaza Strip, “I’d rather be stateless all my life than give up one meter of my country.”
Mohammed Rabah Suliman