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Palestine: Anger At Palestine Papers

Al Jazeera’s release of the Palestine Papers, hundreds of documents related to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, has provoked strong reactions throughout the Palestinian blogosphere. In this post we hear from bloggers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, who have expressed their opinions both about the papers, and Al Jazeera’s role in releasing them.

In Gaza Seeran Nofal attacks the news channel in a post entitled “Stop It, Al Jazeera”. She alludes to the (Arabic-language) channel's alleged Islamist leanings and support of Hamas, saying:

حقيقة ما بثّتهُ قناة الجزيرة أمس من وثائق ولّد عندي نوبات من الضحك المُتتالية ، نوبات مصحوبة بنوع من القهر و “المغص” في المعدة ، مع تَقلُّبات في الفكر “المُخيخي” عندي ، هذه القناة يَبدو أنها “فاضية أشغال” ، أو يبدو أنها ترغب في صنع زوبعة إعلامية تَضعها في منزلة أهم القنوات الإخبارية ، لتبين للشعب الفلسطيني ولغيره أنها قناة مُساندة له،مع أنها قناة تُساند “الإمارة الغزّاوية” ، والكل يعلم من أقصد بهذه الإمارة

أعتقد بأن الوقت ليس مُناسباً لبث مثل هذه الوثائق حتى لو كانت تتمتع بالمصداقية ، فنحن نعاني من “فسخ” بين أكبر فصيلين ، تأتي هذه القناة لتعزز الإنقسام بنشرها لهذه الوثائق؟ أعتقد أن الجزيرة لعبت وما تزال دوراً في ترسيخ الإنقسام بين الفلسطينين

In truth, the documents that were broadcast yesterday by Al Jazeera provoked fits of laughter from me, accompanied by a kind of sorrow, and colic in my stomach, and fluctuations in my mind. This channel looks as though it’s got better nothing to do, or wants to create a media storm that would put it in the top rank of news channels, in order to show the Palestinian people and others that it is a channel that supports them – even though it supports the “Gaza emirate” (and everybody knows who I mean by this emirate).
I think the time is not appropriate for broadcasting documents such as these, even if they have credibility, because we are now suffering from a cleft between the two major parties, and the channel is increasing this division by publishing these documents. I think that Al Jazeera played, and still playing, a role in dividing Palestinians.

Mahmoud Abbas. Photo courtesy of Olivier Pacteau under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

However, Mohammed Abu Allan shows a photo of a big signboard in one street in Ramallah on which is written “Al Jazeera is not Arab, Al Jazeera is Zionist”, and comments:

من حق من يريد الرد على الجزيرة وتفنيد كل ما عرضت وستعرض، فهي ليست من الملائكة….
ولكن هذا الاتهام غير مقبول…… ليس من خلال شاشة الجزيرة خرج صوت وصورة الرئيس الراحل الشهيد أبو عمار ليقول للعالم يريدونني أسيراً أو قتيلاً أو طريداً ولكن أقول لهم شهيداً شهيداً شهيداً.
Everyone has the right to respond to Al Jazeera and refute every document it has showed or will show; Al Jazeera is certainly no angel… But this accusation is unacceptable… Isn’t Al Jazeera’s screen the place from where the voice and image of the late president Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat] emerged to tell the world: “They want me to be imprisoned, or murdered , or exiled, but I say to them, [I would rather be a] martyr, martyr, martyr!”

We move on to reactions to the content of the papers, and hear from Amal in Gaza:

Surprisingly, what these papers expose is relatively not shocking, for we all simply knew something wrong was happening. We just chose not to believe, or I would rather say convinced ourselves we were wrong. […] What the “Palestine papers” expose in brief is, ‘Hundreds of people died for nothing, hundreds of lands were simply given away, and negotiations were held for us to give not to take back what once was ours.’ So in a briefer brief, we have been living a web of lies. […] Anyway, I have come to a conclusion that, watching these exposés is like watching a lousy play that you wish the curtains to fall any time soon, but at the same time you don’t want to leave because you don’t want to miss the ending.

Laila El-Haddad, who is from Gaza but lives in the United States, has spoken to friends and family in Gaza about the papers:

More than anything, the details in the Palestine papers show just how out of touch with this reality the negotiators were, and how they chose to ignore this reality. It is this revelation – or reminder – that has most angered and distressed many Palestinians. […] In a bitter irony, and a stark reminder of the conditions many Palestinians in Gaza continue to live under, some cousins and friends there were not yet even aware of the revelations when I spoke with them, because they had no electricity.

Another Gaza blogger, Mohammed Rabah Suliman, has no patience for Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator:

The disparity between a state and a country is sadly indistinct to Erekat who has been overwhelmingly trying to create it for the past 18 years but failed. All I’ve got to tell him, being a Palestinian living in the besieged Gaza Strip, “I’d rather be stateless all my life than give up one meter of my country.”

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