PLO: Al Jazeera hurting Abbas like Israel hurt Arafat
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abd Rabbo fiercely slams Qatari network for exposing papers documenting negotiations between PA, Israel. 'Quotes said in ironic tone were presented as Palestinian answers,' he says; calls for independent Palestinian body to investigate leak
The publication of secret documents which suggest the Palestinians offered to cede large parts of east Jerusalem has put the Palestinian Authority in an awkward position.
Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary General Yasser Abd Rabbo held a press conference Monday to discuss the matter. He claimed Al Jazeera, which released the papers, was systematically trying to hurt the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, in the same way Israel hurt Yasser Arafat.
"A similar campaign was waged against Abu Ammar (Arafat) before Camp David. Everyone agrees that the hands that murdered Abu Ammar were Israeli hands. What they did to Abu Ammar, Al Jazeera is doing to Abu Mazen (Abbas). It puts him under international scrutiny," he said.
According to him, Al Jazeera published "references which were said now and again in an ironic manner as Palestinian answers." He added that "Al Jazeera took a lot of things out of context, including things that were said in jest. They made up things I've never heard of."
He stressed that the Palestinian leadership's stance had not changed. "We ceded nothing in Jerusalem. We ceded nothing more than Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) presented. Our position is that we have a right over the 1967 lands, the rest is not true."
Meanwhile, Abbas said the Leaked documents deliberately confuse the positions of either side.
"What is intended is a mix-up. I have seen them yesterday present things as Palestinian but they were Israeli... This is therefore intentional," Abbas said Monday in Cairo. He said the peace talks were carried out in an open manner.
"We say very clearly, we do not have secrets."
'Al Jazeera trying to compete with WikiLeaks'
Abd Rabbo also slammed the Qatari prince which "green lighted the Al Jazeera campaign" and described it as "a political campaign of the first order." He said, "We hope his majesty will expand transparency to the highest level, we want transparency in Qatari relations with Israel and Iran."
Abd Rabbo claimed that Al Jazeera was trying to compete with WikiLeaks.
The Palestinian official demanded to enquire the leaking of the documents through "independent national institution" and not by the PA leadership. "We would like to learn whether these documents are truthful or not and whether Al Jazeera presented the documents to the public in an objective manner or in a political way which has nothing to do with being professional," he noted.
Abd Rabbo admitted the Palestinians have made mistakes when it came to talks with Israel. "We haven't hidden anything from the public eye. We've tried to be transparent and honest and operate by public opinion to fix our mistakes and learn from them," he said.
An emergency meeting was held Sunday night by Fatah officials to discuss appropriate ways of reaction.
Former senior advisor to Yasser Arafat, Bassam Abu Sharif, claims that contrary to what is being said by Palestinian Authority senior officials, the documents are credible: "Those who have betrayed the rights of the Palestinian people and allowed themselves to negotiate the issue of east Jerusalem and agree to Israeli annexation of Jewish neighborhoods must be investigated," he said.
Abu Sharif chose to attack the Palestinian negotiating team and accused them of abandoning Jerusalem. According to Sharif, the Palestinian leadership was exposed as weak and submissive, one that pretends to represent the Palestinian people when in fact, "the senior officials cooperated with Israel against the Palestinian national interests."
Abu Sharif, whose relationship with the Fatah leadership was undermined following the death of Yasser Arafat, is known as a harsh critic of the current Palestinian Authority leadership. He called for the establishment of a social movement that would support the foundation of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. "We must defend our heritage and holy places for that is a defense of peace."
Abbas in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Hamas slams PA
Meanwhile Hamas continues to attack the PA. Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip Sami Abu Zohari said that "these secret documents exhibit a shared culpability between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This dangerous documentation proves the aggressive involvement intended to eliminate the Palestinian problem." Abu Zohari claimed the papers expose the PA's attempt "to destroy the Palestinian people's rights" especially when it comes to Jerusalem and refugees.
He added that the documents also expose the anti-resistance activity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as cooperation with Israel in the beginning of the siege on Gaza and during Operation Cast Lead.
"We look at these documents as more evidence of the security and political decline of the Palestinian Authority," said Abu Zohari. He predicts future documents will reveal even more ties between the PA and Israel.
Hamas official Mahmoud al Zahar said on Sunday that "the PA leaders should be ashamed of themselves for their offers and renunciations to Israel."
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Ramallah responded to the publications by saying it was "completely shocked."
Bassam Abu Sharif, former senior advisor to Former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, claimed the documents published on Al Jazeera about Israeli-PA negotiations are in fact "credible". He added: "There needs to be an investigation against those who betrayed the Palestinian people's rights, took the liberty to negotiate about eastern Jerusalem and agreed to Israeli annexation of the Jewish neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city."
Abu Sharif, whose relations with the Fatah have deteriorated since Arafat's death, is known as a critique of the current PA leadership.
Al Jazeera announced they will publish more extractions from the documents, including findings regarding the cooperation between PA and Israeli security forces. The television network said it intends to publish information about a Hamas senior official's assassination in Gaza planned by former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz with his Palestinian counterpart, General Nasser Yousef.
Al Jazeera also promises to expose information regarding the coordination between the PA and Israel during Operation Cast Lead and right after the Gaza flotilla affair when the Goldstone Report was issued.
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook