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The Palestine Papers, or some of them, are now out and causing turmoil in lots of places.

There is a great deal of commentary surrounding those papers about what the Palestinian side was or was not willing privately to give or concede to the Israelis. There are also fragments of the Israeli side in the process, such as FM Livni's notion that she did not want to take responsibility for lost Israeli lives (I'm trying for a neutral term there) if settlements presently in the WB were transferred to PA control in a border deal, because she was sure they would be murdered as soon as the transfer occurred, that their lives would not be safe. According to Ha'aretz yesterday.  

And there is, of course, in the Israeli papers and elsewhere a notion that somehow the effect of the Palestinian Papers is unfair to Israel because it does not show the purportedly reasonable positions the Israelis were putting forth which gave rise to what we see in the Palestinian papers or in response to them. Without saying what they were.

So, what were they? Inquiring minds, and those who claim balance is lacking because these 'reasonable' positions are not described, want to know.

One of the problems with interpreting the Palestine Papers is that they are only the papers of one side. In order to understand what was actually going on, some rational description of what the other side was saying of which these conversations described in the PPs are a part, is needed.

I write here because one of the logistical problems of getting that question answered is not available to me or most Kossacks, that is, seeing if that information is back in the deep Archives, about to be roiled with the new DK4 introduction next week. While it may be that prior posters have covered this exhaustively, it seems to need doing again, with these papers in mind. One example only is a remark seen there which involved letting the settlement of Ariel stay as long as the PA got the rights to the water underneath it; water may well be a major issue of discussion in these talks, which ended with Cast Lead.

I believe it would be helpful at this point if those Kossacks who know post or repost what they know of the specific Israeli positions in these negotiations, and how those positions affected what we can see here. Were there issues which were sort of resolved, subject to the resultion of others. Were there those which were the ones which actually prevented a complete deal because they were not resolved or never could be given what they were? Nobody here who does not have that information can deal with interpretion of the the responses. All we have is the assertion that one side was being reasonable and the other either was not or was issuing 'demands', characterizations which do not increase understanding.  Without that information, we can see a tango but only one of the dancers.

Links are gooood.

Having half the conversation is an otherwise unresolvable problem  to both sides, and we all  need to see what both sides were at the points described in the Palestine Papers. So I am asking Kossacks to provide what specific information they have on these issues, particularly the positions the Israeli side actually took in these negotiations, as specific as possible, as we all see the smoke that generalizations produce here.

Originally posted to Christy1947 on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A good question (0+ / 0-)
  •  Good Question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, Euroliberal

    It doesn't look like recent Israeli governments ever had any attempt to agree to a two-state solution -- all of the negotiations were a sham.

    On the other hand, I don't think this matters, as far as U.S. policy is concerned.

    "It's always been a class war, Frodo."

    by bink on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 11:16:10 AM PST

  •  the way I look at it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, cedar park

    these papers were incredibly embarassing to the palestinian leadership, and I don't see any incentive for them to portray things this way for propoganda value. Looking weak and compliant for the Israelis is a cardinal sin over there and somehow engineering these papers to get rhetorical jujitsu over the Israelis is well beyond anything I've seen the palestinian representatives capable of.

    The current leadership in Israel in the last few years comes from the far right, and their positions on all these questions are basically known, so I don't know why so many people found this surprising.  This reminds me of the faux outrage the Russians expressed over certain indelicate things brought out by wikileaks. Like they didn't know people thought that stuff about them...

    •  All that may well be true, but in this case (0+ / 0-)

      I think plumbing the collected information of those who may have it in specific is a useful exercise, so that we can do what Kossacks can to avoid another round of "My side was reasonable and the other was making ridiculous demands' without knowing what was 'reasonable'or not, and what was or was not idiotic 'demands,' given the way this negotiation actually went, since we now have or may have at least four releases worth of what half of it was. Ohlmert may nor may not have written about this, and Livni may or may not have done so, or there may be other sources of informaton. Time to bring them in and let everybody have a look at them.

      Livni is reported to have said that nothing is done until all is done, and it becomes a much more interesting question as to what was or was not done, given that the current round of obstacles seem to have had very interesting proposals made by the PA on them in the last round, without managing to move anything forward, which suggests a different list of no gos last time but we newbies here don't know what those were. And it's time that changed.

      •  I doubt this info would ever leak (0+ / 0-)

        from the Israelis. So we will probably have to make do with what is out there.

        the question for the Israelis really is, would they accept the proposals described in these papers? Yes or no?

        •  Your first sentence raises an interesting (0+ / 0-)

          question. One of the later dated PP items in the Guardian concerned Bibi, and how, in contrast to other matters  and to the conduct of Ohlmert's government, he was spending a great deal of time tryng to weaken and damage PA. IIRC the item was one of the PPs referring to Bibi as a Master of Ambiguity in the Guardian title for it.

          These papers would certainly do that, and the ones released only make Livni look like a cigar store stiff, she not being a favorite of the current government at all either. What I saw in the Guardian surely makes both look not so good. And leaves Israel as a near cypher in the proceedings. A partisan of CT would call that two hits with one throw. Until we find out who really leaked them, I don't know what we will know about the motives of the leaker(s).

          One of the Guardian papers was Ohlmert's proposal and several were the PA's. Very interesting maps. But the question is not whether we think they are wonderful ideas or not, but what the parties themselves did with them.

  •  Fundamentally incorrect (10+ / 0-)

    One of the problems with interpreting the Palestine Papers is that they are only the papers of one side

    Most of the papers I've read have been official meeting summaries of meetings between the PA, Israel, and the US.  These summaries are usually prepared for ALL parties as a single document.  Hence, this is not just "one side's" account.  

    "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

    by weasel on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 11:39:24 AM PST

    •  Where are these summaries available? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sofia, elliott, InAntalya

      I have read accounts of them but I have not read the summaries themselves.  And who prepared them?

      For there our captors demanded of us songs, And our tormentors mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion."

      by Alec82 on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 11:43:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  See here: (7+ / 0-)

        "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

        by weasel on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 11:49:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  the diary by Heathlander (4+ / 0-)

        has all the information.

        "It takes two to lie. One to lie, one to hear it." Homer Simpson

        by Euroliberal on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 11:51:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Link please to Heathlander document. (0+ / 0-)

          If these notes are all there is, I find it very odd indeed, as when reading them, one can hear the Palestinian side talking and proposing, and only the odd comment on the substance from the Israeli side. Usually either "NO" or that that side thinks a proposal is 'not exciting'.  There are seven or so areas of discussion, but the only ones in the Guardian center principally on maps and territory, down to the disposition of a single monastery.There are huge areas of 'security' indicated as important, but only a few references in the papers. It's as if the Israeli reps are slightly noisy spectators, not negotiators. Note as well that the documents are in most cases summaries only, which makes the matter odder. The documents seem to suggest that draft documents were in the works at one point, and many committees working on specialized subjects but most of that is not in the papers.

        •  I have read Heathlander's analysis again. (0+ / 0-)

          Analysis is fun and his is fine, but there is a difference between the question of who did what and when, and how that matter should be considered in retrospect. Heathlander's fine article is the latter, not the former, which is what I am looking for. I read documents like a lawyer, for evidence, and I am still looking for that.

          And it would be nice if I didn't have to wait until some poster talks again about Israel's 'reasonable' proposals' and the 'demands' in response, to ask exactly what those 'reasonable proposals' were.

          If this is all there is or is going to be, it does not surprise me that the 2010 mess went nowhere, because the Israeli papers indicated as far as I can tell that the Israeli government landed on all those areas of possible concession or agreement by PA, treated them as done deals, and either pushed them further, taking Shiek Jarrah for example or trying, or used what they had learned from 2008 to make sure 2010 didn't even get that far.  

  •  I don't think even the negotiators could answer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alec82, InAntalya

    your question.  It's like both sides are just playing for time, knowning the birth rate and settlements will determine the viability of any final peace agreement between two states.

    You may find the Ha'aretz interview with the editor of The Guardian interesting background speculation.

    What particularly surprised or impressed you, after all your years of covering this conflict, in the documents?

    What I got was a strong sense of how the Palestinians are really weak and sounding desperate, especially in an area that we haven't yet published stories about - the negotiations in 2009, after the Gaza war and after the government in Israel changed and Obama became president in America, on the issue of a moratorium on settlement building. It is very striking to see the tension over the settlements issue, with the Palestinians really desperate to get a freeze and the Americans unable to provide it. You get [U.S. Middle East envoy George] Mitchell talking about Barack Obama as the best chance for peace, unlike any American president before him.

    What is also very interesting in the documents is the intimacy of the relationship between the negotiators on both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, although they obviously don't agree on most things. There is another interesting detail and that is it's very clear that there is a conventional channel on negotiations, between Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, but then you have also Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas talking on a different channel, and the negotiators are complaining that they don't know what goes on there. For example, Livni was against Israel taking in any refugees whatsoever while Olmert had a different position.
    You have been covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over two decades. What was your feeling after reading the documents?
    I have to say that I am very depressed. To me it is very clear that Tzipi Livni immediately rejected the very generous offer out of hand and simply said in response, "Well, what about Har Homa and Ma'aleh Adumim?"

  •  Something else for all to consider (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in our legal system, the substance of negotiations between parties is generally inadmissible in court. The reason is, parties may not go as far in negotiations if the negotiations break down, and positions they have taken in private are used against them, characterized as admissions.

    The same basic principle should apply here. These kinds of negotiations are conducted in secret so that each side can have maximum room to maneuver. If the public is going to pick over every little offer and concession made in a negotiating process, nobody will make any offers or concessions.

    In loving memory: Sophie, June 1, 1993-January 17, 2005. My huckleberry friend.

    by Paul in Berkeley on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 02:22:13 PM PST

    •  True as far as it goes, but not this far. (0+ / 0-)

      All of the kinds of documents which have shown up so far are the kind which end up in national archives where they are public documents in places which have such records at some point, and which end up in footnotes in history books.  It is also commonly the case that parties either write books or articles on what happened, or give interviews. Particularly in the Israeli papers, this negotiation has drawn a good bit of ink, some of which is linked as 'previously leaked' in said papers and in Heathlander's diary of a few days ago, noted above, so the presumption of confidentiality is long long gone on this one.

      At this point, anyone who want to call one side's position 'reasonable' and the others' only a 'demand' or an 'unreasonable demand' should give careful consideration to supplying the factual evidence as to why such position is reasonable or unreasonable and precisely what that position was in fact.  

      And in this particular context, where parties  hereoften assert the reasonableness of one side over against the unreasonableness of the other, as facts, without details, the details are important.

      Incidentally, the exception to admission as evidence in court of statements which might be relevant has to do with the admissibility specifically of settlement discussions as to the particular matter being litigated only, which have their own and entirely separate exclusion from use in court. We are not in court while in session at DKos..

    •  Major facet missing in your analysis (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Even in our legal system, the negotiations between the parties representatives are not kept secret from the parties themselves.  That is what is happening here: the Israeli government and the PA are lying to their own citizens (the actual parties in this dispute).  Hence, parallel is grossly inaccurate.

      "How did you go bankrupt?" "Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly." - Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

      by weasel on Wed Jan 26, 2011 at 04:19:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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