The Palestine Papers, Day 2: Population "swaps" and the right of (no) return

We've just posted the second batch of stories and documents from

    We've just posted the second batch of stories and documents from The Palestine Papers, Al Jazeera's months-long investigation into thousands of confidential documents from Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

    Our coverage today hits on a few main themes:

    Population "swaps." Israeli negotiators, including foreign minister Tzipi Livni, proposed a plan to transfer several Arab Israeli villages - including Baqa al-Gharbiyya and Barta'a - a future Palestinian state. The proposal is reminiscent of the "Lieberman plan," the proposal named after Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman that's been denounced as racist by many left-wing Israeli commentators.

    I traveled to Baqa al-Gharbiyya and spoke with dozens of residents, almost none of whom said they wanted to leave the state of Israel for a future Palestinian state.

    Refugees and the right of return. Or the right of no return, more accurately: The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority both offered to allow, at best, a token number of returnees from the 6 million-strong Palestinian diaspora. "The Palestinians need to know that 5 million refugees will not return," chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a meeting.

    Erekat also told David Hale, an adviser to the Obama administration, that "I never said the diaspora will vote," meaning they would have no say over a final status agreement with Israel.

    Laila Al-Arian reports from the Bourj el Barajneh refugee camp in southern Beirut.

    The Obama administration. Speaking of Obama: The Palestine Papers reveal details about how his administration pressured the Palestinian Authority to resume talks with Israel. And they demonstrate how Obama refused to honor one of the Bush administration's biggest promises to the PA.

    We've also posted a new round of commentary and analysis. Alistair Crooke, formerly of the British MI-6, writes about Israel's insistence on a Zionist - rather than a Jewish - state. Mark Perry looks at how the US is still "Israel's lawyer."

    Ali Abunimah, the founder of the Electronic Intifada, has two pieces - one about the squabbling over refugees between the PA and the Jordanian government, another about Israel's planned "population swaps." And Egyptian journalist Amira Howeidy analyzes how the PA relinquished the right of return.

    We'd love to hear your thoughts on the series so far - either in comments below or on Twitter (#palestinepapers).


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