Much has been said of the revelations known as “PaliLeaks” – the release to the public by Al Jazeera of thousands of confidential peace process-related Palestinian documents. The ensuing discourse has largely focused on the details of “this” or the ramifications of “that,” and whether the alleged concessions offered by the Palestinian Authority to Israel in past negotiations – including its purported inclination to divide Jerusalem, forgo the Palestinian “right of return” and recognize Israel’s legitimacy – were in fact genuine, a ploy, or altogether fabricated.
This misses the point entirely.
The analysis of the documents by diverse individuals precludes the derivation of any uniform (fundamental) understanding of the importance of PaliLeaks. The inevitable outcome of this process is the evolution of multiple, conflicting “truths,” which merely reflect varying worldviews. As such, it is tempting to minimize the significance of PaliLeaks by classifying its significance as “subjective.”
However, there is one categorical truth that has emerged – and been overlooked. This realization can be qualified as absolute, for its root cause, and the context in which it was revealed, are both well defined. This truth also has the benefit of being widely observable, which further reduces the influence of interpretive partiality. And this truth is “reactionary” in character, thus serving as an emotional barometer that has the advantage of gauging deep-seated, perhaps even subconscious convictions.
The irony is that this truth is derived not from the confidential materials themselves but rather from the near-homogeneous overwhelming Palestinian response to PaliLeaks. The truth revealed is that Palestinians, barring a monumental cross-generational transformation, will never mandate their leadership to make the compromises needed to forge peace with Israel.
The Palestinian reaction to PaliLeaks was twofold. First, the Palestinian leadership condemned Al Jazeera, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas saying, “This is shameful. These documents are designed to create confusion. In fact, these were Israeli [proposals and do not reflect Palestinian positions].”
In other words, the Palestinian Authority did damage control, refuting even the possibility that it may have acted sensibly, to immunize itself against charges of “colluding” with the Jewish state. And the Palestinian populace did just that, accusing the PA of conspiring with Israel and branding its so-called leaders as traitors.
This speaks volumes about both the duplicitous nature of the Palestinian leadership and the unyielding character of Palestinian society.
That many pundits agree that the Palestinian Authority has been marginalized by PaliLeaks is quite instructive. It shows that acting rationally and making compromises in negotiations are deemed irrational by most Palestinians. Furthermore, the mere suggestion that radical Palestinian elements will now be strengthened – Hamas, for instance – reinforces the Palestinians’ propensity to reject “moderation” in the name of fanaticism. For there is nothing moderate, irrespective of circumstance, about empowering a terrorist organization through popular consent.
None of this, however, is news. The majority of Palestinians are already known to maintain extremist attitudes. Many people chose to ignore the results of the 2005 Palestinian election, but the fact remains that the Palestinians elected Hamas, a militant Islamic organization overtly committed to Israel’s destruction, to represent them. Accordingly, one can only assume that the average Palestinian relates more closely to the statement “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it,” as it appears in the Hamas charter, than to mutual affirmation of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the cornerstone of democratic philosophy.
PaliLeaks may or may not have exposed a willingness on the part of a select few Palestinians to cooperate with Israel, although, not surprisingly, those in the Palestinian Authority – including PA President Abbas – who are said to have “compromised” with Israel are, to begin with, illegitimate as they are all unelected. Therefore, as is now recognized, they do not speak for the Palestinian masses.
Even more tellingly, PaliLeaks proves the majority of Palestinians are opposed to reason and compromise. To accept that the best Palestinians can hope for is Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and “Palestine,” or that five million “refugees” will not be permitted to flood Israel into oblivion, is not a matter of making concessions but merely the acceptance of reality.
Accordingly, PaliLeaks teaches one irrefutable lesson: that borders, Jerusalem, “refugees,” “settlements,” and “blockades” have never constituted insurmountable obstacles to achieving peace, but rather that the lone barrier to the actualization of “Palestine” existing alongside Israel are the Palestinians themselves.