Ma'an News Agency
January 27, 2011 - 1:00am

The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Justice announced Thursday that it was preparing to file a suit against Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news station for its role in the publication of documents that the ministry said "aimed at tarnishing the image" of the government.

On Sunday, the news station, along with the London based The Guardian newspaper, began publishing reports on a set of 1,600 leaked documents said to be copies of maps, transcripts and communications from over a decade of negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Ministry of Justice deputy Khalil Qaraja told Ma'an that lawyers had already begun preparing a case and consulting with officials in the West Bank government. There was no indication that The Guardian would also be involved, though it partnered with Al-Jazeera to release the documents.

PA officials have accused Al-Jazeera of slander, political manipulation and attempting to destabilize the West Bank, after the channel aired excerpts of recordings and showed transcripts of meetings where PA and PLO officials made large concessions to Israel.

Officials were quoted saying the right of return for Palestinian refugees was a "bargaining chip," offering Israel the opportunity to re-occupy the Philidelphi corridor between Gaza and Egypt, entertaining requests to assassinate Hamas leaders in the West Bank, and offering to give up large swaths of Jerusalem in exchange for statehood.

A PA government official who preferred to remain anonymous, said requests would be sent to Qatar by law enforcement officials, asking for information as to how the leaked documents came into the agency's possession.

Accusations were launched Wednesday night by PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, who named two men as the source of the leaks; Clinton Swicher, who he said was a former CIA agent, and Waster Cork, who he identified as a former member at the British intelligence.

Earlier in the week officials accused an Al-Jazeera reporter and second journalist of being behind the leaks, though neither have been confirmed.

One official insisted that at least some of the documents had been forged, though PLO negotiator Nabil Shaath had told Al-Jazeera during an interview that he was aware of all of the documents published.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017