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Leaked documents show Palestinian peace concessions

Monday, January 24, 2011
www.JTA.org

JERUSALEM — Palestinian peace negotiators were willing to turn over nearly all of the Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem and accept a shared authority of the Temple Mount, leaked Palestinian documents reveal.

More than 1,600 Palestinian documents about the peace process with Israel were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network, which shared them with Britain’s The Guardian newspaper. They began appearing Sunday night in the two media outlets.

According to the documents, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told U.S. officials that the Palestinians were giving Israel “the biggest Yerushalayim in history,” The Guardian reported.

They show that during negotiations in 2008 and 2009, Palestinian negotiators offered Israel all of the Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, with the exception of Har Homa, which now has 20,000 residents. PLO leaders also suggested trading parts of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah for land located elsewhere, according to The Guardian.

The Palestinian negotiators also proposed a joint committee to take over the Jewish and Palestinian holy sites on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The documents show that the Palestinians agreed that Israel would take 10,000 Palestinians refugees under the right of return and that they would recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In addition, Israel offered to transfer Israeli Arabs to the Palestinian state.

They also reveal that Palestinian Authority leaders in the West Bank, including President Mahmoud Abbas, were warned in advance about the Gaza war, which began in December 2008 and lasted for one month.

The documents reportedly were leaked over several months from more than one source, according to a Guardian editors’ statement. The identity of the leakers is being protected by Al Jazeera and The Guardian.

On Monday, Erekat called the report on the documents “lies and half truths.”

Ahmed Qureia, who led the negotiations in 2008, told The Associated Press that “many parts of the documents were fabricated, as part of the incitement against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian leadership.” Abbas said that nothing reported in the documents is secret, and that the PLO was updated on all offered concessions.

Abbas also rejected the report that said the number of Palestinians being allowed to return to Israel would be severely limited.

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