Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A few days ago, Noah Pollak wrote that in his meeting with the president Abbas Lies to Trump, Big Time:
There was only one remarkable moment in the otherwise formulaic remarks to the press Wednesday by President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: a claim by Abbas so audacious and dishonest that he may have damaged his credibility with the president:

"Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace."

Abbas and Trump Credit: Whitehouse.gov

Pollak goes on to show that on the contrary, based on his previous statements, Trump is well aware of Abbas's dishonesty.

Let's hope that Trump is also aware of Abbas's deception in rigging negotiations with Israel.

During that same meeting, Abbas Told Trump: Peace Talks Should Resume From Where 2008 Negotiations With Israel Left Off
The Palestinians showed Trump the details of the negotiations with Olmert. “At the time, we presented land swaps of 1.9 percent [of the West Bank] and Olmert offered 6.3 percent, and this is where things ended because Olmert left politics, and we told [Trump] and his staff that the differences are not so great and that is a good starting point for any negotiations on borders, which is a critical issue and which will have implications for all the core issues and the permanent agreement,” said the official.
There are 2 claims made here:
  • The implied offer to Olmert of land swaps of 1.9% and Olmerts offer of 6.3%.
  • The breakdown in negotiations was due to Olmert leaving office under scandal
Back in 2011, these same 2 claims were made by Abbas himself, with a slight difference:
Abbas also contended that he and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were "very, very close" to reaching a peace agreement in 2008, before the Israeli leader left office under a cloud of corruption allegations.

"It was a very good opportunity," he said. "If he stayed two, three months, I believe that time we could have concluded an agreement."

He confirmed Olmert's account that the Israeli leader was prepared to withdraw from 93.5 percent of the West Bank. The Palestinians, Abbas added, responded by offering to let Israel retain 1.9 percent of the West Bank.
The difference is that Abbas explicitly states that the Palestinian offer of 1.9% of the land was in response to Olmert's offer, not before.

So on this basis -- Olmert's leaving office early and the Palestinian last counter-offer of 1.9% -- Abbas wants to begin the negotiations on borders from this point and go forward from there.

Abbas, French then-President Sarkozy and Olmert Credit: Israeli Prime Minster's Office

But this suggestion by Abbas is simply not true.

The Abbas version of events is directly contradicted by the Palestine Papers, a collection of confidential documents about the Israeli–Palestinian peace process leaked by Al Jazeera between 23 and 26 January 2011. They were authenticated by Al Jazeera and The Guardian, and a media adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also affirmed their authenticity.

According to those papers, Abbas never presented Olmert with a counter-offer.
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East has carefully reviewed the "Palestine Papers," which Al Jazeera says are Palestinian Authority documents memorializing a decade of Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. If these documents are authentic, they offer significant clues to one reason why the process has thus far failed.

Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Fair Witness National Director, says "What the documents from the post-Annapolis talks reveal is that members of the respective negotiating teams shared pragmatic talk about borders, Jerusalem and refugees. While there was not complete agreement on core issues, there was hope of reaching a compromise. A 'Palestine Paper' dated August 31, 2008, memorializes Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's peace proposal package. But there is no indication that Palestinian President Abbas ever came back with a counteroffer."

The "Palestine Papers" reflect claims about an alleged counteroffer, but no evidence that one was ever relayed to Olmert. A December 14, 2008 memo shows Saeb Erekat telling Israeli negotiator Udi Deckel that the Palestinian counteroffer had been 1.9%. It appears, however, that 1.9% was a number Palestinian negotiators had been discussing with the Israeli negotiators prior to the Olmert offer. And, as Deckel points out, "discussions on territory" between negotiators do not constitute a leader's response to a comprehensive peace offer.

An internal Palestinian document reveals that Abbas never intended to respond to the offer at his September 16, 2008 meeting with Olmert, which he regarded as merely "ceremonial." A memo drafted in preparation for that meeting states:
In order to avoid the blame game, the President [Abbas] today is going with a positive attitude, where he will ask more questions from Olmert on his offer, and he will tell him that the Palestinians will respond later.
There is no record of a subsequent response from Abbas.

Rev. Thomas Prinz, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Leesburg, Virginia, notes that "Talk amongst negotiators is very different from an actual peace proposal agreed upon by leaders." [emphasis added]
This version of events, that Abbas did not provide a counter-offer to Olmert is confirmed by none other than Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat himself:
Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Ereqat reveals that PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas refused an offer by the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert to establish an independent Palestinian on an area equal in size to the West Bank and Gaza, with a 6.5% land swap to accommodate the settlement blocs.

Ereqat said that the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat had instructed him to uphold the Palestinians' full rights, including their right to all the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Jerusalem, 37 kilometers of dead sea coast, 46 kilometers of no man's land between Latrun and Jerusalem, the right of return for the refugees and a safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza. Ereqat added that 'Abbas had given him similar instructions, and emphasized that no Palestinian would give up these rights. If Israel rejects the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, he concluded, it will be left only with the option of a bi-national state. [emphasis added]

Source: Al-Hayat (London), November 17, 2010
Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Credit: Wiki Commons

Abbas is moving the goal posts by trying to talk Trump into starting the talks from a point in time that never existed. If Abbas really is unable to be an honest negotiator, then Trump will have to either have to find a way to pressure Abbas in order to keep him honest, or admit that peace talks at this time are simply not possible.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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