The release by Al-Jazeera of sensitive documents revealing the Palestinian Authority’s apparent willingness to make huge concessions to Israel during 10 years of closed-door peace talks, have put Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an embarrassing situation. So much so, diplomatic sources have claimed, that he has asked Egypt to mediate between the PA and Qatar to stop what he sees as the “defamation” of the Authority. The documents show that there are clear contradictions between the private and public utterances of the Palestinian negotiators.
According to Al-Mesreyoon online newspaper, Abbas claims to have kept all Arab countries up-to-date on what his negotiators and the Israelis have been discussing; Qatar-owned Al-Jazeera is, Abbas believes, trying to stir up Arab public opinion by distorting the image of the Palestinian Authority. The sources revealed that Egypt expressed its support for the PA’s position and its belief that the leaks “slander” the PA.
Egypt’s former assistant foreign minister, Ambassador Rakha Hassan, said that these documents, now known as the “Palestine Papers”, will have negative repercussions for the PA, inside as well as outside Palestine. It is likely, he said, that Hamas will use the leaks as a pretext for continuing to criticise President Abbas. Hassan said that he expected the PA to try to get more Arab support during the crisis. Keeping the Arab state advised of progress at all stages will, Abbas believes, provide some cover for the PA.
Mahmoud Abbas was in Egypt when the Palestine Papers were first revealed; he has tried to play down the damage arising from the revelations and denied offering Israel concessions on territory and the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. He said that the leaked documents confuse Palestinian stances with those of the Israelis, and that confusion in and of itself is the objective of the leaks. “We have no secrets, and this is known by all Arab countries,” he said.