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Friday, May 24, 2013

Olmert's peace offer that Abbas rejected

The Tower has an amazing interview with Ehud Olmert giving the details of his final offer for peace and of Abbas' stonewalling afterwards.

It is essential reading.

“In the last meeting I brought a big map, like the size of this whole table,” recalls Olmert. “With colors for all the regions that go over to us and the reverse. We would receive 6.3%, they would get 5.8%, but they also get a safe passage in a tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank that was the equivalent in territory of the remaining half percent. Territories that were considered no-man’s-land before 1967 would be divided 50-50. Ariel would stay with us, and a network of tunnels would go under the Trans Samaria Highway to ease the passage of Palestinians in that area. Similarly for the areas of A-Zaim and Hizmeh, since I was insisting on E-1. There would be a tunnel that would enable Palestinians to have quick passage between Bethlehem and Ramallah, despite our control over the territory, and so their territorial contiguity would not be impaired.”

“At the same time, I gave Abbas territories in the Beit Sh’ean Valley, next to Tirat Zvi, not far from Afula, in the area of Lachish, in the area of Katna (next to Har Adar), the northern Judean desert and the area around the Gaza Strip. I completely gave up on having an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley. That was because I could protect the line of the Jordan River through an international military force on the other side of the Jordan RIver. There was no opposition on the Palestinian side to our having a presence in warning stations along the mountain range.”

TheTower.org: But you essentially gave up on Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount?

Olmert: “Correct, I proposed a compromise on sovereignty over the Temple Mount. There would be no sovereignty for anyone else. There would be the joint administration of the five states.”...

TheTower.org: So what did Abu Mazen say about that proposal? Did he accept your ideas?

Olmert: ”[In the meeting] he didn’t say he opposed my idea. It was clear to me that he agreed. He said to me, ‘Listen, it makes a very serious impression.’ I said to him, ‘Come on, let’s initial the map. In a day or two we’ll fly to the U.S. [for the annual UN General Assembly meetings which were taking place the following week] and convene the U.N. Security Council and tell them that it’s a peace deal between us. The whole Security Council will approve it, and then we will go the General Assembly and ask for a vote. About 190 out of the 193 states will vote for it, maybe except for Iran and Syria. After that we’ll convene a joint session of Congress and we’ll appear everywhere together. We’ll gather a summit of all the world’s leaders at the connecting point of the Holy Basin. They will all come.’ He said to me again, ‘It’s serious, it’s serious, but I have to be sure. I want the map experts from both sides to sit together because I’m not an expert. We called over Turjeman and Saeb, I said to Shalom that he should call Danny Tirza, our map expert, so they should sit together the next day.”

But the next morning came the fateful call from Abbas’ top aide, Saab Erekat, saying there would be no meeting to finalize the peace deal because the Palestinians “had forgotten that Abbas had to go to Amman,” Olmert recalled. Erekat said they would meet the following week. “I’ve been waiting ever since.”

Asked this week to explain why Abbas would not have accepted such a sweeping offer, a senior Palestinian official told TheTower.org that Olmert’s proposal was not acceptable to Abbas, who has been quoted elsewhere saying, “the gaps were wide.”
I think that Olmert's offer was irresponsible in how far it went, going way beyond even Ehud Barak's offer, but this proves that the Palestinian Arab leadership has never been seriously interested in peace.

Of course, now that these details have been published, it will be regarded as a floor, not a ceiling, in any future negotiations (or negotiation pretenses.) Olmert thinks that the reason Abbas rejected it was:

In the end they thought that maybe after the American elections they would get more from President Obama.