Palestinian Authority negotiators called the leaked documents on PA concessions to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “a pack of lies and half-truths.”
Al Jazeera did not explain how it obtained hundreds of emails, minutes of meetings and other documents, but some of the information was attributed to former PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, now a senior negotiator. U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said, “We cannot vouch for their veracity,” while Tzipi Livni, who was Foreign Minister in the Olmert government, said she would not comment.
Qureia labeled the reported leaks “lies and half-truths” that were part of Israeli “incitement.” Saeb Erekat, who leads the PA negotiating team, told Al Jazeera after its exposé that the report is "a pack of lies."
He added, "We have not gone back on our position. If we had given ground on the refugees and made such concessions, why hasn't Israel agreed to sign a peace accord?"
Erekat pointed an accusing figure at Israel, which he said leaked the documents in order to embarrass the Palestinian Authority. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said, "I don't know from where Al Jazeera came with secret things. There is nothing we hide from our brothers, the Arabs.”
Several items in the leaked documents were actually previously reported, particularly Olmert’s offer to allow approximately 1,000 Arabs to immigrate to Israel every year. Israeli media also reported Olmert’s offer to cede Judea and Samaria.
Despite the media sensation, the steady change in the PA position, which once was to discuss concessions and now is to hold out for an “all-or-nothing” agreement, turns the reported documents into an academic discussion.
TIME Magazine’s Tony Karon commented Monday, “An unspoken truth held to be self-evident by many in the Middle East is that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is dead. If so, the trove of more than 1,600 secret [leaked] Palestinian documents…could be its post-mortem.”
The PA has changed its strategy the past year to going through the motions of diplomatic talks while building support from the international community for unilateral recognition of its desired sovereignty over all of the land beyond the temporary 1949 Armistice Lines. Specifically, it wants all parts of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria that were restored to Israel from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War.
The PA has also adopted the 2002 Saudi Initiative that conditions an agreement with Israel's accepting the immigration of several million foreign Arab descendants of those who left Israel during the War of Independence and in the Six-Day War. Most of them fled at the behest of the Arab Legion, which promised them that the reborn Jewish state would be quickly annihilated. A smaller number fled from IDF forces.