"They can sell many things to the public, but after the reality is uncovered, you understand that there is a real partner that has to be empowered and communicated with, even if he is weak and conflicted, and even extreme," attorney Gilad Sher, who headed the negotiations team during the Ehud Barak administration, told Ynet.
'Documents undermine Abbas's authority'
Sher said he was not surprised by the contents of the documents that were released by the Al Jazeera television channel on Sunday, which revealed the generous compromise that the Palestinians allegedly proposed regarding territories in Jerusalem. He claimed that the compromise resembles former US President Bill Clinton's proposals, which were denied by then-PLO chief Yasser Arafat.
"Today Abu Mazen heads the Palestinian Authority, the last leader from the old generation with whom we could have and should have arrived at an arrangement in the general outline of the Clinton initiative," he said.
Speaking about PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the past tense, Sher is of the opinion that the leaked documents will cause Abbas to lose control of his government.
"Unfortunately, his authority will be undermined further," he said. "I'm not sure that Abu Mazen will be able to continue to hold the reins of the government after this leak, which is a one-sided leak that aims to harm the chance of reaching an arrangement."
Sher stressed that the leaked papers did not reveal a draft of a peace accord or even a set of mutual agreements, but only one-sided Palestinian records.
"When it comes to an agreement, we are not there yet," he said. "To get there we must work, and the Israeli public must know and force its government - which wasted a lot of time on futile exercises and moved us farther from the place that ensures the existence of a Jewish democratic state – to renew the negotiations and aim for (the establishment) of two states for two peoples, and for separation from the Palestinians, with an accord or without it."
'Abbas presented as brave, serious man'
Attorney Dov Weissglass, who served as former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's chief of staff and as an advisor to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, asserts that the documents are a proof that the private Palestinian discourse differs from its public discourse.
"In the midst of their own secret negotiations, they reveal more or less rational stances," he said. "These are not giant concessions, as they are presented. We should not be surprised by the publication. Those who follow the Palestinian positions from the year 2000 up to now understand that there is no drama here.
"The current administration, which has more freedom of action, was supposed to be very impressed by these publications," he explained. "After all, it's a proof of the seriousness and determination on the part of the Palestinians. But we all know and it's not a secret that the current government's positions come from internal considerations, and these will not change as result of the publication. Even without the leaks, the government is well aware where (former Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert's negotiations reached."
Weissglass claims that the document leak aimed to harm Abbas's standing within the PA, but instead will raise his standing internationally. "Outside his country, in the circles that follow the peace process, Abu Mazen is perceived today, in the light of the publication, as a serious and brave man, even if doesn't do him good on the Palestinian street."
'Leak aims to renew talks'
Attorney Moty Cristal, a former negotiator, claims that the leak primarily supports the Palestinian position that Israel has a partner in the peace talks.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the publication is a planned move that aims to explain to the Israeli and Arab public that we were very close and want to return to the negotiation table," he said. "It's possible that this move intends to prepare the public and get the process going."
Cristal said that the likelihood of documents of such scope being released without the knowledge of the leadership is low.
"After a wave of anger last night from both sides, the notion that there actually is a rational and pragmatic Palestinian partner and that a settlement is within reach was strengthened," he said. "If it was done on purpose, it was a fine move."
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