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Palestine papers: A Palestinian tragedy

The ‘Al-Jazeera’ documents do little to help save the prospects for a future Palestinian state, and, in fact, empower the extremists.

By Ray Hanania, February 2, 2011

No matter what position Palestinian secular leaders take on compromise with Israel, they will always be denounced as traitors by the extremists. That’s a fact one must remember in trying to decipher the accuracy and details of the socalled Palestine Papers – more than 1,600 notes and records of contacts between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators desperately trying to carve out a final peace deal.

Although the veracity of the documents has not been proven, the reports smack of truth.

Palestinian leaders are divided into two camps – secular Arabs willing to compromise to end more than 62 years of conflict and statelessness, and religious fanatics who would rather die than compromise on two states, especially if one is Jewish.

Naturally, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is going to be attacked by the fanatics and their Hamas terrorist supporters. That’s what fanatics do.

The worst part is that, judging by the leaks released so far, it’s clear that the Palestinian negotiators did their best to make concessions meant to encourage the Olmert-led government at the time to sign a peace accord. But no dice.

As for the current government lead by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, it was clear from the moment he refused to extend the moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank and around Jerusalem that he was not interested in a two-state solution, despite his statements to the contrary.

This battle shows where the real priorities of both Israel and the Arab extremists are.

Israel’s government is not ready to compromise. And it’s just as clear that Hamas and its fanatic supporters do not want peace and believe that in continued conflict, they have a chance of one day destroying Israel and restoring pre-1920s Palestine.

THE REAL tragedy is that the documents, obtained and released by Al-Jazeera, have only helped further divide the already divided Palestinian people.

Although fanatics opposed to concessions fuel the anger of the Palestinian people, that anger is only digging them into a deeper hole of despair.

Palestinians have no future with the fanatics, but in the face of Israel’s refusal to compromise, even futility can be made to feel good.

The irony here is that the real story is not that the Abbas government was willing to “surrender” too much in the failed peace talks. The real story is that the Palestinians too offered the Israelis the best deal they can ever expect and it was still refused.

Tragically, moderate and secular Palestinians are being pushed aside by the strident rhetoric of the fanatics. The Al- Jazeera documents do little to help save the prospects of a Palestinian state, and, in fact, empower the extremists.

In this Palestinian tragedy is a future of pain and suffering for Israel too.

History has shown that secular Palestinians have been the ones willing to make peace; it has been the religious fanatics who have thrown out reason in favor of a future where they believe they have a chance at destroying Israel.

The real tragedy is that the Israeli government’s intransigence risks hastening the day when Hamas and Hizbullah will become a potent unified force, guaranteeing a future of dangerous uncertainty.

The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host.

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