By Gregg Carlstrom, Al Jazeera, Jan. 23, 2011
Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents – memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations – date from 1999 to 2010.
The material is voluminous and detailed; it provides an unprecedented look inside the continuing negotiations involving high-level American, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials.
Al Jazeera will release the documents between January 23-26th, 2011. They will reveal new details about:
- the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, and to be “creative” about the status of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount;
- the compromises the Palestinian Authority was prepared to make on refugees and the right of return;
- details of the PA’s security cooperation with Israel;
- and private exchanges between Palestinian and American negotiators in late 2009, when the Goldstone Report was being discussed at the United Nations.
Because of the sensitive nature of these documents, Al Jazeera will not reveal the source(s) or detail how they came into our possession. We have taken great care over an extended period of time to assure ourselves of their authenticity.
We believe this material will prove to be of inestimable value to journalists, scholars, historians, policymakers and the general public.
We know that some of what is presented here will prove controversial, but it is our intention to inform, not harm, to spark debate and reflection – not dampen it. Our readers and viewers will note that we have provided a comments section in which to express opinions. In keeping with our editorial policies, we reserve the right to excise comments that we deem inappropriate, but all civil voices will be heard, all opinions respected.
We present these papers as a service to our viewers and readers as a reflection of our fundamental belief – that public debate and public policies grow, flourish and endure when given air and light.
Shlomo Ben Ami, former Israeli Forign Minister, Daud Abdullah, director of Middle east monitor UK and Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada make up the panel of analysts who discuss the Palestine Papers.
This is Part one.