Palestinians: 'Settlers' Can Live in our State

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei offered to allow Israelis living in the third largest settlement the chance to continue living there under Palestinian rule in a future Palestinian state, according to documents released by the Arabic al-Jazeera satellite station.

Al-Jazeera and the British Guardian newspaper released more than 1,600 documents mostly about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations from 2008 in what is now being called "Palileaks."

According to the document from May 29, 2008, Qureia said he didn't mind if Israelis became Palestinian citizens, but then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni replied, "You know this is not realistic. They [the Palestinians] will kill them the next day."

Home to some 30,000 Israelis, Ma'aleh Adumim is basically a suburb just a few miles outside of Jerusalem. It's a settlement Israelis have believed would remain in Israeli hands as part of any final agreement with the Palestinians.

Other Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria that Israelis believe will remain part of Israel as a result of deal with the Palestinians include Ariel, Efrat and Givat Ze'ev. But according to the so-called Palestine Papers, the Palestinians did not agree to that.

Among revelations that went contrary to the Palestinians' public stance was their apparent willingness to compromise on the issues of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, and Palestinian refugees.

PA officials have always maintained there is no room for compromise on the right of return for millions of refugees and their descendants to Israel proper. But in private PA President Mahmoud Abbas said differently.

"On numbers of refugees, it is illogical to ask Israel to take five million, or even one million - that would mean the end of Israel," Abbas was quoted as saying. In response, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar urged Palestinian refugees to protest.

Some analysts have pointed out that al-Jazeera is supportive of Hamas and not the Palestinian Authority and therefore was not a supporter of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"Remember, al-Jazeera is funded by Qatar, which is quarreling with Saudi Arabia, trying to cover its bets with Iran, and known for its sympathy for Hamas," Herb Keinon wrote in The Jerusalem Post.

But if al-Jazeera hoped to foment what some called a "second Tunisia," the revolt did not materialize.

There was one incident of Palestinians trying to break into the offices of al-Jazeera in Ramallah, but that was rebuffed by Palestinian security forces.

In general, there was no massive uproar, primarily, analysts say because there was nothing too dramatically new in the documents that was not already known to the Palestinian as well as Israeli publics.

On the other hand, Jerusalem Post analyst Khaled Abu Toameh wrote that al-Jazeera had succeeded in "in stilling in the minds of many Palestinians and Arabs the belief that the leaders of the PA are a bunch of corrupt traitors who serve Israeli and American interests."  

Toameh believes the damage done to the PA's image and reputation "is colossal and irreparable."

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