The release of the “Palestine Papers,” Al Jazeera’s leak of thousands of documents relating to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, is creating space in the American mainstream for this central truth: it is Israel’s fault that there has not been a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in Nazareth, writes that “hundreds of leaked confidential Palestinian documents confirmed the suspicions of a growing number of observers that the rejectionists in the peace process are to be found on the Israeli, not Palestinian, side.” This fact, which has been obscured by Israeli propaganda since the collapse of the Camp David talks, is pushing its way into U.S. media coverage as well as into the reactions of liberal American Jewish groups to the papers.
For Israel, the documents could prove problematic because they show the earnestness with which the Palestinians pushed for a deal, despite Israeli protestations that they have no partner for peace
Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, told the Jerusalem Post that the documents highlight “the ongoing intransigence of the Israeli government.”
In a statement, Americans for Peace Now said:
These documents — if authentic — highlight a reality that peace process cynics have long sought to deny: Israel has a far more real “partner” than it has ever been willing to admit. The documents underscore the fact that, sadly, Israel has not capitalized on the opportunity for peace this partner represents.
The Los Angeles Times‘ Edmund Sanders similarly writes:
For one thing, the documents show that Palestinian leaders appeared to be far more willing to cut a peace deal than most Israelis — and even many Palestinians — believed.
In contrast to Israelis’ portrayal of Palestinian leaders as rejectionists, the Palestinians come across in the papers as the side best-prepared, with maps, charts and compromises, even broaching controversial tradeoffs that went beyond what their own people were likely ready to accept.
Even the Wall Street Journal has something similar to say: Charles Levinson writes that “Israel, meanwhile, is portrayed in the documents as slowing the Mideast peace process by turning down unprecedented Palestinian concessions.”
The only major American newspaper that didn’t report this central theme that has emerged from the “Palestine Papers” is the New York Times, which published Ethan Bronner’s “analysis” claiming that the documents “open a door” on peace talks.
While this initial coverage is just a start, the release of the “Palestine Papers” should, and has to potential to, upend U.S. media’s understanding of the conflict.