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Palestine papers: America's approach to peace talks 'a failed policy'?

The Palestine papers, leaked documents purporting to reveal details of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, may create obstacles to ongoing talks – or sweep away failed strategies and allow new progress.

In this 2007 photo released by Israel's Government Press Office, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (r.) and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (l.) as they shake hands in Jerusalem. Newly released documents, dubbed the Palestine papers, show a behind-the-scenes look at negotiations between Israel, the U.S., and the Palestinians from 1999 to 2010.

GPO-Amos Ben Gershom / AP / File

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The 'Palestine papers' released Sunday by Al Jazeera – leaked documents suggesting Palestinians were prepared make sweeping concessions on East Jerusalem, "right of return" demands, and other long-time sticking points in negotiations – are unlikely to make life easier for anyone.

The Palestinian leadership is likely to retreat at least for a time into intransigence, some Middle East analysts say, given the widespread perception in the Arab world that the documents – most dating from 2008 – show the Palestinians prepared to give away too much.

Israel, its international image already tarnished by its return to settlement construction, will see that image darken further as critics may see the documents as confirmation that Israel never has been serious about reaching a two-state solution.

But the documents’ release may cause the most trouble for US-led peace talks.

The released documents revealing surprisingly generous Palestinian offers going unanswered by the government of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Some critics of the US talks say the apparent intransigence of Israel in the face of Palestinian concessions mean that it is simply foolish for the US to continue working on its stated goal of "narrowing differences" – especially when the current Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen as less compromising than Mr. Olmert’s.


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