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Opinion: Newly published documents embarrass Israelis and Palestinians

According to documents published by Al-Jazeera, the Palestinians have offered much more generous concessions to Israel than previously known. Bettina Marx says the revelations are a disgrace for both sides.

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When American and European officials travel to Tel Aviv, Israeli leaders explain the standstill in negotiations with the Palestinians by arguing that "we have no partner for peace." This oft repeated claim explains the Israeli public's decreasing interest in the peace process. However, documents published by Al-Jazeera and the British newspaper the Guardian contradict the old Israeli claim. Apparently, Palestinians have no partner for peace. Their concessions were wiped off the table by Israeli negotiators as not enough.

Even the Olmert-Livini government, considered moderate by the international community, was not satisfied with Palestinian offers. The readiness of the Palestinian delegation to forego justified demands was so far reaching that it bordered on self-abandonment. They were prepared to forego the withdrawal of Israel to its 1967 boundaries. Moreover, they offered a compromise in which they would accept most of the Jewish quarters in the old city of East Jerusalem even tough much of that area was built on land taken from Palestinians.

Yet the Israeli government said No to everything. It wasn't enough for them. And on top of everything else, they wanted the Palestinians to drop their demand that the large settlements in the West Bank be cleared. But that would have meant that there would be no contiguous Palestinian state capable of sustaining itself. The Israelis weren't ready to give an inch on their most far reaching demands. The documents made public by Al-Jazeera support those who question Israel's readiness to seek peace.

But it's not just Israel that has been publicly disgraced. The Palestinian leadership doesn't doesn't fare much better. They did not represent the vital interests of their own people. In secret, without informing the public, they were ready to negotiate away the just demands of the Palestinian people. As they have consistently done since the Oslo Peace Process, the Palestinian leadership allowed itself to be degraded as a collaborator and helper of the occupying power. The leading Palestinian negotiators tried to curry favor with Israeli politicians to an embarrassing extent. They tolerated Israel's merciless advance against the Gaza Strip. And for decades they have accepted Israel's violations of international law.

"It takes two to tango" is another favorite phrase used by Israeli politicians to point out Palestinian obligations. That's true. And in the Middle East two partners do indeed tango: a narrow-minded, arrogant and unmoveable Israeli occupying government and a weak and subservient Palestinian leadership.

Author: Bettina Marx / sk
Editor: Michael Knigge

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