January 24, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3532

Qatar and PA Clash over Al-Jazeera Document Leak

January 24, 2011
Palestine, Qatar, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 3532

In an unprecedented attack on the PA, Qatar's Al-Jazeera channel has published documents allegedly revealing PA concessions regarding the final settlement with Israel; collaboration between Israel and the PA in assassinating Fatah and Hamas operatives; and prior knowledge on the part of PA President Mahmoud Abbas about the Israeli strike on Gaza in 2008.

In response, PA spokesmen accused the Qatari Emir of being behind the publication of the documents, calling upon him to demonstrate the same "transparency" in exposing the affairs of his own country, such as the U.S. military base in Qatar and its role in espionage against Arab countries.

The following is a sample of the Palestinian reactions:

PA Officials: The Allegations were Ordered by the Emir Of Qatar, Who Makes Decisions for Al-Jazeera

PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that Al-Jazeera had "deliberately mixed together Israeli proposals and Palestinian positions," which he termed "a shameful act." He added that the Palestinians did not hide secrets, and that all the Arab countries know this because the Palestinians keep them updated about their negotiations with Israel. The PA Information Ministry accused Al-Jazeera of imitating Wikileaks, calling upon it to avoid using methods of "yellow journalism."[1]

At a press conference aired in full on Al-Jazeera, PLO Executive Committee member Yasser 'Abd Rabbo called the channel's campaign "a political attack on the PA and the PLO, ordered by the highest echelons in the Qatari [regime]." Blasting the Qatari Emir, he added: "We thank the Qatari Emir for authorizing this attack launched yesterday by Al-Jazeera, since it is inconceivable that [Al-Jazeera Director-General] Waddah Khanfar was responsible for it."

'Abd Rabbo said he hoped the Emir would "continue to promote complete [media] transparency, inter alia by [allowing coverage] of the U.S. [military] base in Qatar and its role in espionage against the neighboring countries and the Arabs, as well as [coverage of] Qatar's relations with Israel and Iran, and of the aid extended by Qatar to sectarian forces and [other] forces working to divide their countries and undermine their national spirit." Condemning Al-Jazeera as unprofessional, he said its attacks on the PA and the PLO served the agenda of the Qatari decision-makers, and accused it of staging a media farce by employing investigators coached in advance – all without revealing its intentions or involving the PA, in violation of journalistic ethics. He also accused the channel of forging documents, changing and editing texts, and presenting a distorted picture of the PA-Israel negotiations, calling to form an independent investigative committee to assess the authenticity of the documents.

'Abd Rabbo promised that the PA would not take steps against Al-Jazeera's offices and reporters in its territory, because they are not responsible for the channel's policy: "We will not overstep the boundaries of the law in dealing with the media… We call upon [the reporters] to be more balanced and not serve as a political mouthpiece."[2]

The Documents are Forged, Innacurate

Palestinian Chief Negotiator Sa'eb 'Ereqat said that the documents were "forged, false, and had been taken out of context," and questioned the timing of the leak, saying: "Why did Al-Jazeera [choose to] publish these documents while we are confronting the U.S. and Israel in the Security Council and confronting Netanyahu's right-wing government?... Who has an interest in this forgery that Al-Jazeera is airing?"[3] 'Ereqat noted that the PA is willing to publish its archives on the negotiations with Israel in order to clarify its positions to the Palestinian and Arab public.[4]

At a conference held today in Ramallah, Ahmad Qurei', chairman of Fatah's Jerusalem Department, questioned the authenticity of the Al-Jazeera documents, saying they did not reflect the Palestinians' positions. He stated that all the negotiations held by the PA since the signing of the Oslo Accords had been above board, since nobody banned the negotiators from discussing the talks in the media; therefore, there was nothing to justify Al-Jazeera's act of "forgery." Qurei' wondered about Al-Jazeera's motives, calling the leak "an all-out campaign against the PA, its leadership, and the PLO, [launched at] a very problematic juncture, while Israel was launching a nefarious attack on [PA President] Abu Mazen."[5]

Al-Jazeera's Report will Hurt the Palestinians, Help Israel and the U.S.

Nasser Al-Lahham, chief editor of the independent Palestinian news agency Maan, called Al-Jazeera's leak "a large-scale media campaign, one of the greatest [of its kind] in the last decade, [launched] in imitation of Wikileaks. [Al-Jazeera] has every right to seek publicity, expose [facts], and promote transparency," he stressed. "However, like it or not, Israel and the U.S. will be the first to benefit from this campaign, whatever the motives behind it. Allah bless Al-Jazeera for butchering us on a daily basis on the pretext of [promoting] transparency and diversity of opinion."

Al-Lahham continued: "Nearly all of Al-Jazeera's viewers think that most Palestinians are servants and slaves of the occupation... as though the Palestinians have never refused to make concessions or return to the negotiation table, have never risen up [against the occupation], have not stood fast for 60 years, and have not sacrificed the best of their heroes to martyrdom and imprisonment. On [Al-Jazeera's talk show] 'The Opposite Direction' on Tuesday, host Faisal Al-Qassem will [surely] speak of the security coordination [between Israel and the PA] and call all our leaders worthless...

"We, the residents of occupied [Palestine], ask Al-Jazeera: What do you want from us? Do you want us to commit suicide? Or to burn ourselves in the streets so that the rabbis can have a nice slice of Palestine? How about we hand Palestine over to you, so you can liberate it [in our stead], while we spend a few years recovering in Qatar until you complete the task?"[6]

Hamas took advantage of the leak to accuse the PA of making concessions and collaborating with Israel. The movement's spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: "According to the documents, the PA has conspired with the occupation and has been involved in attempts to abolish the Palestinian cause."[7]


[1] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), January 24, 2011.

[2], Al-Jazeera TV, January 24, 2011.

[3] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), January 24, 2011.

[4], January 24, 2011.

[5] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), January 24, 2011.

[6], January 24, 2011.

[7], January 24, 2011.

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