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If these documents are not forgeries, if what they purport really happened, it would change my perspective on the conflict. I am not so wedded to my views that I wouldn’t revise them in the face of evidence. And from the descriptions I have read so far, these documents, if real, would be evidence that the PA leadership is much more serious about peacemaking than I’d thought. If they survive this, that would be encouraging. (Seriously discouraging of course is the fact that this has immediately been understood thus by the world: They betrayed their people.)
But I am absolutely unable to establish the authenticity of the documents. (How could I? How could anyone who wasn’t there? Al Jazeera is not giving any clues about their provenance.) What astonishes me is that virtually the entire globe is simply accepting that these are real, even though Abbas, who is in fact in a position to know, insists they’re forgeries. Moreover, what they purport sounds deeply improbable. And finally, they obviously benefit Hamas. Should this not incline us all at least to say, “Let’s see what these things are and reserve judgment at least until we’ve read them all and had a careful thought about them?”
Barry Rubin is very convinced they’re a complete hoax:
Here’s how the Los Angeles Times summed it up: “Al Jazeera said the documents also revealed that Palestinians were willing to divide the Old City, limit the return of Palestinian refugees to 100,000 people and recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
Wait!!! This sounds familiar. It is the ISRAELI NOT THE PALESTINIAN position. In other words, either deliberately or in the translation they REVERSED the story! It should read:
“The documents also revealed that the Israelis were willing to divide the Old City, limit the return of Palestinian refugees to 100,000 people and [asked the Palestinians to] recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
This is the explanation, offered by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, and although I can’t verify it the idea does make sense. If this is true it should instantly change the world’s thinking. Abbas suggests that the documents or the translation reverses the Israeli and Palestinian positions. In other words, it is Israel offering compromise and the Palestinians rejecting it. In general, it is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, not the PA that is proposing to divide east Jerusalem and so on. This does fit much of what has already been known publicly.
Now if that is true, much of the media should announce that it has made a mistake and that in fact they have got the story wrong all along. The headlines should read: Israel Offers Compromise, PA Rejects It.
I suspect he may be right. He tends to be right about a lot.