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The Globe and Mail

Palestinian leaders are the target of al-Jazeera leak

An artist paints a Palestinian flag, part of a larger mural in Jebaliya, northern Gaza Strip.


Perusing the lead story in Monday's Globe and Mail, I see that the "Palestine Papers" are predicted to have "a more negative effect on the Israeli leadership than on the Palestinians." While, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future - and especially about the Mideast - I disagree.

True, as the Globe's report suggests, the extent of the concessions Palestinian negotiators were prepared to make on East Jerusalem will play into the narrative of Israeli intransigence. In the immediate term, however, Israeli diplomacy will benefit. Specifically, it will now be easier for the U.S. - which had been critical of Israel's refusal to freeze construction in Jerusalem - to veto a proposed Security Council resolution on settlements being pushed by Arab and Muslim states. After all, can one really expect Barack Obama to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians?

No, the real damage from the leaked papers will be to the Palestinian leadership. Most Israelis will find little in the documents that has not already been written about in their hyper-competitive press. On the other hand, Palestinians - who normally get their information from a subservient, if not government-controlled media - will be shocked by the extent of the concessions their negotiators were prepared to make.

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Already, Palestinian leaders are denying the veracity of the material leaked by al-Jazeera. And, in Gaza, Hamas is making hay, seeing the leak as a golden opportunity to support their goal of replacing the Palestinian Authority as the legitimate voice of the Palestinian people.

In the coming days, watch for supporters of the Palestinians in Europe and elsewhere to increase the pressure to include Hamas in the Mideast negotiations - if and when those negotiations resume.

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