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  • Netanyahu's aides: Palestinian demands for Jerusalem have been proven 'ridiculous'
Palestinians riot Silwan Tomer Appelbaum
Palestinians riot in in East Jerusalem neigborhood of Silwan, Sept. 22, 2010. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The Palestinian Authority's demand for Israel to halt construction in Jerusalem has been proven to be "ridiculous," associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in response to the Palestine papers leaked a day earlier by Al-Jazeera and The Guardian.

Over 1,600 Palestinian documents on peace talks with Israel, which cover more than a decade of exchanges, obtained by Al Jazeera TV and given to the Guardian, provide a unique look into the breakdown of the peace process.

The biggest leak of confidential documents in the history of the conflict has revealed that Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed during negotiations with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to accept Israel's annexation of all but one of the Jewish neighborhoods built in East Jerusalem, Har Homa.

In its first response to the expose, Netanyahu's aides declared Monday that the "documents show that the Palestinian demand over the last year and a half to freeze construction in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem is ridiculous, since it is clear that they had already conceded the aforementioned neighborhoods in negotiations during Olmert's tenure."

East Jerusalem was one in a series of concessions made to Israel by Palestinian negotiators in an effort to move closer to independent statehood. The documents give the impression of a weakened Palestinian Authority and growing desperation among its leaders because of impasses in talks and the growing strength of Hamas.

Israeli negotiators come across in the minutes as confident while U.S. politicians seem dismissive toward Palestinian representatives, according to the Guardian.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday denied offering secret concessions to Israel and said that reporting of purportedly leaked documents had presented Israeli positions as those of his own negotiators.

"What is intended is a mix-up. I saw them present things yesterday as Palestinian, but they were Israeli ... This is therefore intentional," Abbas told reporters in Cairo.

"We say things very clearly, we do not have secrets." Abbas stressed.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, accused Qatar of launching a campaign against Abbas' administration, saying documents released by Doha-based Al Jazeera television aimed to mislead.

The emir of Qatar had "given a green light" for a campaign against the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, Abed Rabbo said. Qatar has close ties to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip

The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, said it "cannot vouch for [the] veracity" of the documents.

"These are not U.S. documents. We cannot vouch for their veracity. None of this changes our understanding of what is at stake and what needs to be done," said a State Department official.

"A framework agreement that resolves the core issues remains possible and necessary," added the official. "We remain committed to a two-state solution; we will continue to work with the parties to narrow existing gaps and work towards a framework agreement."

The official also said the U.S. planned to "redouble" its efforts to that effect at a meeting with the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers next week.