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Cablegate: Canada Facilitates Israeli-Palestinian Archival Cooperation

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FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8135
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SCUL KPAL IS CA
SUBJECT: CANADA FACILITATES ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN ARCHIVAL COOPERATION

1. (SBU) Summary: Canadian, Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S.
archivists have agreed to five joint archival projects, subject to
formal approval of a new Memorandum of Understanding. The focus
will be on surveying and digitizing records currently in Israel that
document the "shared legacy" of the Jewish Israeli and Palestinian
peoples. The Palestinian representative, however, warned that
Palestinian authorities may not approve the MOU until they regain
access to the Orient House. End summary.

PROJECTS WILL DIGITIZE RECORDS INACCESSIBLE TO PALESTINIANS
------------------------

2. (SBU) At the conclusion of a two-day series of meetings in
Ottawa, leading archivists from Israel, the Palestinian territories,
Canada, and the U.S. on June 11 agreed to a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) on five potential joint archival projects, which
would focus on surveying and digitizing archival records in Israel
that document the shared history of the Jewish Israeli and
Palestinian peoples. Pending formal approvals of the MOU, the
projects -- under the framework of the International Council on
Archives with the name the "Israel and Palestine National Archives
Collaboration" -- would:
-- place under archival control, digitally reproduce, and make
available newspapers published in Palestine during and prior to
1948;
-- survey and digitize photographs documenting the pre-1948
cultural life of Mandatory Palestine;
-- survey and digitize records from the British mandate and Ottoman
period located in the Israel State Archives;
-- form a team of experts to inspect and inventory the records
taken from the Orient House in August 2001; and,
-- set up records management and archival training programs for the
Palestine National Archives and the Israel State Archives.

ORIENT HOUSE CONTROVERSY ALMOST DERAILS MEETING
----------------------

3. (SBU) The Palestinian representatives insisted throughout the
meeting that they needed guaranteed access to the Orient House, the
former PLO headquarters in Jerusalem that Israeli troops have
controlled since 2001. According to the Palestinian delegation,
"thousands" of Palestinian archives that the Israelis had
"confiscated" remain inside. The Palestinian delegation stated that
the U.S. and Israel had both agreed at the Annapolis summit to
reopen all Palestinian institutions, including the Orient House, but
claimed that Israel had failed to follow through on its commitment.
After much debate, all parties agreed to continue efforts to re-open
the Orient House, while focusing on small projects first. A
Palestinian archivist nonetheless warned that Palestinian
authorities might not sign the MOU until resolution of this issue.


COMMENT
-----------------

4. (SBU) This meeting was another concrete example of the ability of
the U.S. and Canada to work together to facilitate joint projects
between the Israelis and Palestinians to advance the interests of
peace in the Middle East.
WILKINS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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