With the release to al-Jazeera of thousands of pages of Palestinian 'peace process' documents spanning the years 1999-2010, the shit's hit the fan, the cat's out of the bag, and its gotta be all over red rover for the puppets of the Palestinian Authority. Move over, Ben Ali.
Adapting and updating an old post-1967 Israeli occupation joke captures perfectly the relationship between the key players: God calls the Americans, the Israelis and the Palestinians to his house and they sit around in armcairs - Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni. Suddenly they realise the Palestinians are missing. Where's Abbas? asks Sharon. Where's Qureia? asks Rice. Where's Erekat? asks Livni. God claps his hand to his forehead. Of course, he says, I forgot. Mahmoud, Ahmed, Saeb! Bring 6 coffees right away!
But as these records reveal, for the Palestinian cause, the so-called peace process, stretching back to the Madrid peace conference of 1991, has been more a series of dirty deeds done dirt cheap than a bad joke.
The Guardian's editorial of 23 January offers as good an introduction as any to this appalling tale:
"Gerald Kaufman once described Labor's 1983 manifesto as the longest suicide note in history. If ever a set of documents merits this epithet, it is surely the one we publish today. Written by Palestinian officials, obtained by al-Jazeera and shared with the Guardian, the papers are the confidential record of ten years of efforts to seek a peace agreement with Israel.
"It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak, craven and eager to shower their counterparts with compliments; the Israelis, who are polite in word but contemptuous in deed; or the Americans, whose neutrality consists of bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong. Together they conspire to build a puppet state in Palestine, at best authoritarian, at worst a surrogate for an occupying force. To obtain even this form of bondage, the Palestinians have to flog the family silver. Saeb Erekat, the PLO chief negotiator, is reduced at one point to pleading for a fig leaf: What good am I if I'm the joke of my wife, if I'm so weak, he told Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell.
"Palestinian concessions roll on. The Israeli settlements around East Jerusalem? Sold, two years ago in a map which allows Israel to annexe all of the settlements bar one, Har Homa. Mr Erekat called it the biggest Yerushalayim (he used the Hebrew word for Jerusalem) in history. Israel's former foreign minister Tzipi Livni acknowledges the pain involved, but refuses the offer. Israel banks the concession anyway. They are building in occupied Gilo today as if there is no tomorrow. Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in the Muslim world? That, too, is up for grabs. Mr Erekat said he was prepared to consider 'creative ways' to solve the problem of Haram al-Sharif or the Temple Mount.
"The surrender of land Palestinians have lived on for centuries prompts more demands. Not only does Israel want all of East Jerusalem, Har Homa, and the settlement blocks of Ariel and Ma'ale Adumim which carve strategic swathes out of the West Bank. Not only does it insist on a demilitarised state. It also wants Palestinain leaders to sign away their future. When Mr Erekat asked Ms Livni: 'Short of your jet fighters in my sky and your army on my territory, can I choose where I secure external defence?'. She replied: 'No. In order to create your state you have to agree in advance with Israel - you have to choose not to have the right of choice afterwards. These are the basic pillars'.
"Before the extreme right politician Avigdor Lieberman rose to prominence, the papers reveal that Israel asked for some of its Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinain state. Since then, state population swaps have entered the mainstream of Israeli debate, but no one is asking the Israeli Arabs themselves. Has the former nightclub bouncer from Moldova become more Israeli? Or is Israel behaving more like a Moldovan nightclub bouncer?
"One requires Panglossian optimism to believe that these negotiations will one day be resurrected. Nineteen years of redrawing the 1967 borders, of expanding the boundaries of Jerusalem, of refusal to accept the return of Palestinian refugees, and of pleading for a fig leaf, has sullied the concept of peace. The Palestinian Authority may continue as an employer but as of today, its legitimacy as negotiators will have all but ended on the Palestinian street. The two-state solution could just as swiftly perish with it. If that is to be saved, three things have to happen: America must drop its veto on Palestinian unity talks and take up Hamas' offer of a one-year ceasefire; a negotiating team that represents all major Palestinian factions must be formed; and Israel has to accept that a state created on 1967 borders, not around them, is the minimum price of an end to the conflict. The alternaive is to allow the cancer of the existing one-state solution to grow and to prepare for the next war. No one will have to wait long for that."
The Guardian's recommended course of action, premised as it is on the Americans dropping the hand of their Israeli brat, clipping him over the ear, and grounding the bugger for as long as it takes, is naive in the extreme. How about the United Nations General Assembly declaring rogue Israel an apartheid state and imposing international sanctions? After all, as the Guardian reports: "Livni told Palestinian negotiators in 2007 that she was against international law and insisted that it could not be included in terms of reference for the talks: 'I was the minister for justice', she said. 'But I am against law- international law in particular'." (Papers reveal how Palestinian leaders gave up fight over refugees, Ian Black & Seumas Milne, 24/1/11)