The PJ Tatler

TV Network Goes to War with Government

What happens when a TV network takes potshots at the legitimacy of a government? The scene is playing itself out, with Al-Jazeera saying that the Palestinian government “has shown operational willingness to co-operate with Israel to kill its own people” and the Palestinian National Authority [aka the Fatah party] threatening to take the media group to court.

The fight comes down to a massive leak of 1,600 Palestinian documents, called “The Palestine Papers” or “Palileaks” for effect. The files are supposed to show the communication and negotiation of the Israeli and Palestinian governments, but are being exploited to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority for “collaboration.” Naturally, Al-Jazeera and the Guardian, the only two media groups to receive the documents, are making sure that they are as painful and ostracizing as possible to the Israelis as well.

The whole crisis also underlines how reluctant the Arab street is to make compromises for peace. Although the documents show a tough compromise hammered out, Palestinian officials are being forced to take a hard stance and appear as if they have not given up the “resistance.” To make the point, Al-Jazeera’s article states that “since the death of Yasser Arafat, Fatah’s policy of resistance to Israel has become one of collaboration.”

After the fall of Tunisia and amidst the Egypt crisis, Arab governments are looking increasingly brittle. The direction could be bad for American policy, or more nuanced.