On May 13th the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ published an article by French-Palestinian lawyer Ziyad Clot who worked as an advisor to the Palestinian Authority’s Negotiation Support Unit between January and November 2008. The following day the same article – translated into English – appeared both on CiF and on the website of the Guardian’s partner in the ‘Palestine Papers’ leak, Al Jazeera.
Readers may speculate as to whether the timing of Clot’s decision to wait almost four months since the publication of the leaked documents before issuing an admission of his role in the affair – and of assorted editors to publish it – has any connection to attempts to organise ‘Naqba’ demonstrations throughout the Arab world on May 13th to 15th inclusive. Clot’s Facebook account promotes ‘Walking Home’ – Le Marche de Retour – and ‘Gaza Youth Breaks Out’.
Naturally, Clot flatters himself with some pretty high-minded motives for his actions:
“Taking these tragic developments of the “peace process” to a wider Arab and western audience was justified because it was in the public interest of the Palestinian people. I had – and still have – no doubt that I had a moral, legal and political obligation to proceed accordingly.”
Leaving aside the legal conundrums surrounding the leaking of the papers by a lawyer, Clot’s statement raises the important question of precisely who is entitled to define the “public interest of the Palestinian people”. Should that prerogative be confined to the elected representatives of the Palestinians, as indeed it is in any functioning country, or can anyone claiming flimsy connections to Palestinian heritage (or even not) legitimately decide to over-ride the fledgling Palestinian democracy and deliberately undermine elected representatives simply because he does not agree with their policies?
For that, in fact, is precisely what occurred in the ‘Palestine Papers’ affair: a group of people decided that they knew better. Few, if any, of them have the right to vote in Palestinian elections. Few, if any, of them will bear the consequences of the processes their actions set rolling. What does it matter to those sitting comfortably in Paris, London, Chicago or Doha if negotiations broke down and violence erupts once more?
One cannot but commiserate with the Palestinian people who, in addition to the rest of their trials and tribulations, are also plagued by the meddling of foreigners in a manner which exudes more than a smattering of colonial-style ‘we know what’s best for the locals’ mind-set.
Indeed, reading Clot’s article one begins to appreciate the fact that the type of viewpoints held by him and other foreigners parachuted in to the PA NSU have probably done more to hinder rather than help the peace process. As Clot revealed in an interview with France 24 from September 2010 whilst promoting his book ‘Il n’y aura pas d’Etat Palestinien’, he is in fact a ‘one-stater‘ intent upon promoting the Ghaddafiesque concept of something he calls ‘Israelitine’ and is not averse to employing the ‘apartheid’ trope in the process. (See video interview here.)
Additionally, the fact that mainly (although not exclusively) French language sources suggest that Clot skipped from his position with the PA NSU to becoming an advisor to the Emir of Qatar and may also have worked for Al Jazeera would, together with his publicly voiced opinions, indicate that Clot’s noble claims pale into insignificance beside the overwhelming evidence that the ‘Palestine Papers’ leaks were deliberately engineered in order to kill off any chance of a two-state solution reached through negotiation and compromise.
Whoever initiated and engineered the leaks, together with those such as Clot and the Guardian who collaborated with them, acted entirely out of self-interest with complete disregard – and even contempt – for the Palestinian people.
No amount of faux soul-searching and self-justification in multiply-reproduced op-eds can hide the fact that the actions of Clot and others are the cruel equivalent of encouraging those at the poorest levels of society to squander what little money they have on lottery tickets in the false hope of an impossible dream.
- Post Script to ‘Palestine Papers’: Guardian grossly misrepresented so-called Palestinian “concessions” (cifwatch.com)
- The Palestine Papers and the Malice of Journalism (cifwatch.com)
- Seumas Milne is Correct and Evil (cifwatch.com)