Why do Al-Jazeera’s Palestine Papers matter so much? Well, because they puncture the central fictions upon which the so-called peace process has always depended.

For years now, the various “road maps” have identified the Fatah leadership around Mahmoud Abbas as the only genuine representatives of the Palestinian people, and thus uniquely able to reach an authoritative settlement with their Israeli counterparts.

But these megaleaks apparently confirm that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority had been “privately tipped off” before to Israel’s murderous 2008 incursion into Gaza.

Think about that for a minute.

The British Telegraph today carries new testimonies from that little adventure, in which IDF soldiers explain how commanders “psyched up” their troops to shoot indiscriminately. One veteran says he was ordered to shell every house in a neighbourhood; another, a tank commander, reveals he was told the operation was meant to be “disproportionate”.

“The order was very clear that if a car came within 200 metres of me I could simply shoot at it,” he says.

For most of the world, the war against Gaza presented the suffering of the Palestinian people in its purest form. And yet, it seems, the official Palestinian leadership knew of the invasion in advance — and did nothing to prevent it.

That’s merely one of the more egregious examples of a generalised Stockholm Syndrome revealed by the Palestine Papers.

Elsewhere, Abbas is on record describing Ariel Sharon — a key figure of the Sabra and Shatila massacre — as a friend.

To the arch neocon Condoleezza Rice, he enthused: “[Y]ou bring back life to the region when you come.”

Rice, rather symptomatically, did not return his pleasantries. Instead, she casually dismissed the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestinians — the central event in the whole tragedy of Palestine — as ancient history. “Bad things happen to people all around the world all the time,” she said. (Do you suppose she says the same thing about 9/11?)

The old pattern, again and again: craven servility from the PA, rewarded by repeated kicks in the teeth.

“I would vote for you,” senior negotiator Ahmed Qurei told Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister. By way of reply, Livin explained what she said had been the program of the Israeli government “for a really long time”.

“[T]he Israel policy is,” she said, “to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that is impossible, we already have the land and we cannot create the state.”

The PA’s response to the release revelations was characteristic — and characteristically tin-pot.

“We don’t hide anything from our brothers,” declared Abbas — even as the PA threatened to shut down Al-Jazeera.

The West has persistently lauded the Abbas clique as moderates, prepared to swallow unpalatable concessions in the name of peace. The Palestine Papers reveals them as opportunists and hypocrites, negotiating not on behalf of the Palestinians but behind their backs, secretly adopting positions for which they had no popular support whatsoever, and which they could never deliver.

In other words, it’s not so much that the Palestine Papers have derailed the current negotiations. It’s more that they’ve revealed them as inherently empty, a closed-door charade from which ordinary Palestinians had been entirely excluded.

Which, in its way, is a step forward.

We might see this massive data dump as part of the ongoing WikiLeaking of international affairs, a further example of how the digital revolution has made political secrecy so much harder to maintain.

Because Israel relies fundamentally on Western aid, the crisis in Palestine has always required fundamental obfuscation, since the American public might not be so forthcoming with military supplies if they knew more about what was done in their name. So yesterday, an Israeli government-appointed inquiry declared — wait for it! — the Israeli assault upon an aid flotilla bound for Gaza fully justified under international law.

Now, once upon a time, such a finding might have had some weight. Today, however, alternative narratives from the flotilla have already spread so far and so wide that the report of a stooge commission barely signifies anything.

And in that new transparency lies the best hope for peace. The documentation of the moral squalor of the PA might be discomforting but it’s also necessary. A resolution in Palestine will depend upon the consent of the Palestinians — and that’s only possible when they know what their leaders are promising. To paraphrase Brecht, any progress will begin with the bad truths than with the good lies.