In a statement to the press, Saeb Erekat, chief PLO negotiator, spoke out against the reports based on the Palestine Papers in Al Jazeera and the Guardian. “In the past few hours, a number of reports have surfaced regarding our positions in our negotiations with Israel, many of which have misrepresented our positions, taking statements and facts out of context. Other allegations circulated in the media have been patently false.”
While Al Jazeera suffered from about 50 protesters smashing the windows and security cameras of their TV studios, there may have been long term implications for the Palestinian leadership.
Speaking to journalists in Cairo, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the public had been misled by the reports. “We say very clearly, we do not have secrets.”
The citizens of Gaza remained unconvinced.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials said after a meeting of several groups that all were agreed that deals made with Israel by president Mahmud Abbas’s western-backed Palestinian Authority and his Fatah movement were invalid.
“The participants declared … that the Fatah authority was not entitled to speak in the name of the Palestinian people and that no agreement it makes with the occupier is binding upon our people,” senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan told AFP.
In Wednesday’s Gaza gathering, Islamic militants agreed “on the need to restructure the Palestine Liberation Organisation in a way that makes it relevant to the Palestinian people and to stop negotiations (with Israel),” Khaled al-Batsh, a local Islamic Jihad leader told AFP.
In London, Palestinian students have staged a sit-in protest at the Palestinian diplomatic mission in London.
Akiva Eldar of the Ha’aretz Daily told CNN that “People in Israel were not very interested by those reports.” He said that many people in Israel had lost faith in the process after watching their government “dragging its feet” for the last two years.
According to an article in Ha’aretz Daily, a US State Department official said the leak is making an already difficult situation more difficult and that Washington was in no position to verify the papers’ veracity.