Monday, November 16, 2020

In 2011, Al Jazeera and The Guardian released a collection of over a thousand documents related to the Israel/Palestinian peace process, most of them leaked from the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU)of the PLO headed by Saeb Erekat. They were known as The Palestine Papers. One of Erekat's many resignations came in response to these papers being leaked, presumably by one of his own people.

The articles at the time from Al Jazeera and The Guardian cherry picked out-of-context quotes from Israeli negotiators quoted in the papers to make them look bad. As far as I know, I am the only person who spent a bit of time actually reading the Palestine Papers and discovering many embarrassing things about the PLO as well as how Al Jazeera and The Guardian mischaracterized their findings. 

After Saeb Erekat's death, I revisited the Papers which are still available at the Al Jazeera site. I found one document that is terrifically important, possibly the most important document in the collection, that no one else seems to have noticed - or wanted to report on.

It is called the NSU Negotiation Principles Matrix and it lists, over fifteen pages, every single issue that Israel and the PLO negotiated over, what the PLO's core position was  on each issue, and what the PLO was ready to be flexible on and exactly how much. 

It is a blueprint to the maximal concessions that the PLO would ever give for peace and what their true "red lines" are. This document, in all probability, is why Erekat dissolved the NSU and resigned - it showed all of the PLO's negotiating cards. 

It also shows how impossible it is for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians. The PLO's public negotiating position is entirely consistent with this document and there is no reason to think that the Palestinian leadership has moved from these positions one bit.

Given that a new Biden administration will go back to an Oslo mentality, trying to negotiate a two state solution, this document is more relevant than ever. It shows, in the PLO's own words, how intransigent they are and  how intransigent they always will be. 

It makes no sense to pressure Israel for more concessions when the PLO already says that they won't be enough. 

The matrix starts off with the PLO positions on the negotiations as a whole, upon which there is no flexibility.





·         No end of claims until full implementation of the CAPS

·         Strong  implementation and verification mechanism

·         No backdoor acceptance of state with  provisional borders

·         No end of occupation until full withdrawal of  army and all settlers and full Palestinian control over all the territory, its inhabitants and all external relations

·         Full normalization with Israel by any Arab State shall only commence following the full implementation of the Treaty.


Most of these are things we have heard before as PLO demands. 

Note here that the PLO is insisting that they must receive all of their demands, completely and up front, before Israel gets anything. Notice also that the PLO is speaking for all Arab states, whether they like it or not.


·         Should include recognition of Israel along  recognized and agreed borders.

·         Must not include recognition of certain characteristics of the state of Israel, i.e as a Jewish state.


Here the PLO is saying that they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This is meant to protect the "right to return" so they can plan to turn Israel into an Arab state by forcing it to take in all so-called "refugees" which will be discussed later on in the document.




Location of international borders

·         Must be based on 1967.

·         1967 line = 1949 armistice line, including all legal and agreed modifications. [Alternatively,

·         Land corridor/link could be part of swap package if Palestinians get sovereignty over the land corridor.


language could specify that the West Bank includes East Jerusalem and No Man’s Land.]

·         Demographic arguments cannot be used to draw the border. If Israel wants to argue demographics then UNGA 181 must be the basis of discussion.

·         Negotiate size of area, not percentages.

·         Swaps must be minor - not more than 100 km2 in TOTAL .

·         No swap of land inhabited by Palestinians, regardless of citizenship (e.g., Um el Fahm).

·         Equal in quantity and quality (e.g., Jerusalem land for Jerusalem land, agricultural land for agricultural land).

·         Swap only settlement built-up areas, not empty Pal land (i.e., no ‘blocs’).

·         Swap only settlements adjacent to the border. Swapped areas cannot disrupt contiguity. (No annexation of Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Ya’cov, Giv’at Ze’ev, or Efrat.)

·         No swap of land inhabited by Palestinians regardless of citizenship (i.e Um el Fahm).

·         Proposals for tripartite land swap with Egypt (or Jordan) should be rejected.

·         No leasing.

·         Most of the options with respect to borders will be in the various swap scenarios, which should be guided by the principles herein.

·         Residency rights is a creative option to avoid swapping difficult areas and which may make Palestinians look more reasonable at the table.

Here the PLO is saying that the 1949 armistice lines must be the basis for the final borders, and the Palestinians should even get the "no man's land" between the Israeli and Jordanian positions in 1949.

It is saying that it does not want to gain land in Israel that includes a single Arab. Only lands where Jews would be expelled, or empty land, can be swapped for small settlement areas adjacent to the Green Line.

It explicitly says that Israel must give up all lands that are not, in the PLO's view, contiguous with the 1949 armistice lines. Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel, Pisgat Ze’ev, Neve Yaakov, Giv’at Ze’ev, Efrat - and certainly places like Bet El, Hebron and scores of other communities - must be emptied of Jews.

But if Israel pushes back, the PLO can consider allowing a few Jews to stay as residents of Israel "to make Palestinians look more reasonable."

All of these are clearly non-starters for Israel. But the PLO is saying that it will not budge on this - hundreds of thousands of Jews must leave their homes before Israel can get any benefits of peace.

Delimitation and demarcation

·         Delimitation on agreed and appropriately scaled maps.

·         This is purely a technical issue. It should not be contentious.

Maritime Boundaries

·         Palestine will claim full share of what we are entitled to under international law as a coastal state.

·         Maritime boundaries must be agreed, according to international law.

·         Include clause that says maritime boundaries will be agreed in the future [ideal time would be at or immediately post CAPS].

·         Willing to negotiate shared/joint zones.

·         Maritime boundary does not have to be agreed at the FAPS or CAPS stage. It can be agreed post-statehood.

·         There are many options for the maritime boundaries in line with international law and equitability.

Private property

·         Deal with private property interests in the swapped areas separately from delimitation of the border


Sovereignty and Inviolability

·         West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are one united and integral part of the territory of Palestine

·         Palestinian sovereignty must be full and respected by Israel

·         NOTE: issues of sovereignty should not be confused with functional arrangements that suit both Palestinian and Israeli interests. For example, Palestine could enter into arrangements based on its sovereign equality on various issues in accordance with its own interests.

The next section we will look at contains the PLO demands about Jerusalem. 

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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