Palestine papers: The view from Gaza

By Mo'een El-Helou , January 27, 2011
Saeb Erekat: the  Palestinian chief negotiator says that the leaked papers are “lies”

Saeb Erekat: the Palestinian chief negotiator says that the leaked papers are “lies”

A political earthquake has been shaking the Palestinian territories since the release of the secret memos.

Al Jazeera and Hamas have accused the PA and Mahmoud Abbas of treason. In return, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that all the documents that had been published over the past three days "are forged and we don't know who stands behind it".

The leaked documents appeared to show that the Palestinian negotiators agreed to hand Israel control of neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem, accept Israel as a Jewish state and give up calling for the right of return.

"All are lies and far from reality. I still have doubts about the timing: these lies were published while the Palestinian leadership is preparing for filing to the Security Council to gain a resolution against Jewish settlement construction," said Erekat.

The worst revelation from Erekat's point of view was on Tuesday night, when Al Jazeera published papers on the security co-ordination between Israel and the PA. The documents accused some senior PA security figures of playing a part in Israel's assassination of Palestinian militants and activists.

The people of Gaza are divided. Some accused the PA of treason; others say that Al Jazeera is a trouble-maker

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movements organised rallies and demonstrations against Abbas.

"The documents reveal Fatah's and Abbas's involvement in the attempts to override the Palestinians and their say over Jerusalem and refugees. They also show how they are involved in destroying the armed resistance and help Israel with its siege of Gaza," said Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza.

However, observers in Gaza said that the PA position had been weak from the very beginning due to the failing peace talks and its leaders' co-ordination with Israel over security.

"If the talks with Israel are resumed, I believe that it will be more difficult than before because the Palestinian public is more wary than before and people now know the secret details of the talks," said one observer.

However, the people of Gaza are divided. People who support Hamas praised Al Jazeera and accused the PA of collaborating with the enemy; others who still support Abbas believe that Al Jazeera is a trouble-making channel.

The majority of the people in Gaza believe that the whole affair is a game that aims at preparing the public opinion for a permanent peace solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The documents show the treason of the PA and Abbas. They not only made concessions over our basic rights, but also tried to uproot the armed resistance," said Mohamed Seyam, a student at Gaza Islamic University.

But his colleague, Ali, who declined to give his last name because he supports Fatah, said that the aim of unveiling the papers was to show that Fatah, the PA and Abbas are weak "in order to topple them".

"It is clear that Hamas is planning to take over the West Bank after it took Gaza. So let's see when Hamas rules all the territories, how it will negotiate with Israel," said Ali.

Mo'Een El-Helou is a journalist in Gaza City

Last updated: 4:02pm, January 27 2011