Check out this New York Times story on where exactly Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas were in 2008, when talks fell apart.
–A multinational trust to control the Holy Basin;
–Close on a compromise on refugees — the sides were in disagreement to the number refugees that would return, but it would seem to have been symbolic number in any case;
–The Palestinians would not budge on Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel;
–The state would be demilitarized.
I wrote the other day about the tendency by the Guardian and Al Jazeera to distort the thousands of Palestinian Authority documents they got through leaks.
And now we see that what the leaks essentially reveal is pretty much coincident with the above four points.
And the Times’ on-the-record interview with Abbas took place before the leaks.
That suggests a mega-distortion: That the Palestinian negotiators had something to hide.
Now, it’s true that the negotiators are nervous and have charged Al Jazeera with forgeries — but these charges were made before the extent to which Al Jazeera and the Guardian were distorting the documents was made evident.
What’s also true is that the Palestinians might have done a more efficient job of making the stakes clear to their people, preferably through a single cohesive outline of what they were prepared to cede, as opposed to the drips and drabs that have characterized their characterization of the talks.
But Abbas, through this New York Times interview, appeared ready to do just that.
Which makes me wonder even more about the timing of the leaks.
This seems to have been about spin — more precisely, about whose spin about the talks got headlines first.
About who got to seize the narrative.