Does Everybody Know What Everybody Knows?

The following piece was originally published at The Palestine Note

I wrote yesterday about a particular instance where I felt the Guardian (UK) had distorted and enflamed the content of one of the increasingly notorious Palestine Papers. Today, fellow blogger Bernard Avishai takes it a step further.

Avishai calls the Guardian’s coverage “outrageous” and openly wonders if “…the Guardian actually like(s) this conflict?” I think Bernie is somewhat overstating his case, but his essential point is valid.

Avishai points out that “Any prospective agreement would be a compromise,” and he’s right. For the most part, the really explosive stuff in the Palestine Papers, at least in terms of the Palestinian Authority, is the stuff of pragmatism and compromise.

Ceding Jewish areas in East Jerusalem? Perfectly consistent with the Clinton Parameters. Only a token return of refugees? This has long been understood to be at the very heart of the two-state solution, and precisely the reason so many Right of Return activists are also one-staters. Land swaps to minimize the number of settlers Israel would have to move? Again, this is a very familiar part of the discourse.

Ron Kampeas at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency sees something different in the Papers. As he puts it, “If anything, the documents shatter the illusion that there is a bottom-line consensus about certain settlements being annexed to Israel in a final-status agreement. Many groups refer to these as the “everybody knows” settlements, such as Maaleh Edumim and Efrat, both near Jerusalem.”

I think Kampeas comes very close to the mark as to the real significance of the Palestine Papers. Sure, those of us on the left see in it the confirmation of American bias toward Israel and Israeli reluctance to compromise.  But then why is it that the Americans and Israelis seem not in the least concerned about the revelations, while the PA is in a panic? Continue reading