"Revolution, revelation and the world keeps turning.
The last couple of weeks have been particularly hectic for the political situation in the Middle East. Seemingly out of the blue, the government in Lebanon collapsed, the Tunisian people revolted, and, yesterday, The Guardian and Al Jazeera began a four-day stint of publishing the WikiLeaks documents relating to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Algeria and Egypt are on the edge of meltdown, the people are angry and, for once, the rulers are scared.
After fines, abuse and harassment, and with no politicians or officials willing to listen to his protest, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi doused himself with petrol and set himself alight outside the government building in Tunis - this is what started their revolution. His act was committed on the 17th of December, he died January 4th, and on the 15th the Tunisian president fled to Saudi Arabia. What’s left is an unpopular interim government: chaotic; already being reshuffled; and a far cry from anything that could be called democratic, but the “Jasmine Revolution” did succeed in ending a 23-year long, hated, authoritarian regime, and this event is the most recent and most dramatic crystallization of the anger and discontent felt throughout the Arab world. In the days that followed the revolution, 11 people set themselves on fire outside government buildings: one in Mauritius, two in Egypt, and eight in Algeria. These copycat actions are clearly an effort to begin a repeat of the revolution in Tunisia; in Bethlehem, a radio station received a call from a man threatening to do the same in Ramallah.
When the WikiLeaks files began to be published, several conspiracy-theorists noted that none of the released files criticised Israel, or came from the embassies in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv; I hope that today they are eating their words. Perhaps the most shocking aspect, though, of the WikiLeaks publications is not the implicit criticism which comes from the belligerent Israeli position, nor the corruption of the Palestinian Authority – we’ve known about both for a long time. What has really struck people is the limits to which the PA have been willing to offer concessions to Israel and to sell out their own people just so that they may continue to hold on to power. The allegations are far too numerous to go into detail here – and they are all available on Al Jazeera and The Guardian websites – but they include offering to concede almost all of East Jerusalem to Israel, the acceptance of all but one of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, and the recognition of Israel as a specifically Jewish state. On the first day of publication, 50 rioters tried to storm the Al Jazeera office in Ramallah, and god only knows what will happen in the wake of these terrible revelations.
This is day two of a four-day release schedule."