Just a short while ago we discussed Olmert’s insanely generous offer of a state to the Palestinians. That information was provided by none other than Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority. Well, it appears he wasn’t being entirely accurate in his representations of the offer. Ehud Olmert has recently been interviewed by Newsweek and he sets the record straight.
At the end of Olmert’s term he tried one last maneuver in an effort to secure a legacy. Olmert told me he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September 2008 and unfurled a map of Israel and the Palestinian territories. He says he offered Abbas 93.5 to 93.7 percent of the Palestinian territories, along with a land swap of 5.8 percent and a safe-passage corridor from Gaza to the West Bank that he says would make up the rest. The Holy Basin of Jerusalem would be under no sovereignty at all and administered by a consortium of Saudis, Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians and Americans. Regarding refugees, Olmert says he rejected the right of return and instead offered, as a “humanitarian gesture,” a small number of returnees, although “smaller than the Palestinians wantedâ€”a very, very limited number.”
Hmmm, the Old City as an international domain…now who was it who advocated that point of view?
Olmert and an aide also clarified that the Americans did indeed have an agreement in place with Israel regarding “natural growth” in certain settlements:
In 2003, a team of Israelis from the prime minister’s office held a series of secret meetings with their counterparts in the U.S. National Security Council in both Washington and Jerusalem, according to the Olmert aide. The talks were designed to discuss formulas for continued building within the existing blocs. The Olmert aide said the group agreed that in return there would be no new settlements built, no expropriation of additional Palestinian land, no construction beyond the “built-up line” and no economic incentives from Israel to the settlers. The exact details were kept secret to avoid antagonizing the settlers or the Palestinians. “We did it quietly, and it worked for eight years,” said the Israeli source. He was incensed at Clinton’s recent comments. “I wrote protocols for all the meetings,” the Olmert aide told me. “I have records.” A former Bush administration official involved in the talks confirmed the Israeli account.
Today, Avigdor Lieberman told Ms. Clinton that Israel cannot stop construction inside settlements as per previous agreements.
Yesterday, Ahmed Qurei, who was a pivotal player at Camp David and has always been a key player in negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians proclaimed to the media that any negotiations must resume where they left off. In other words, where the Palestinians said no to Olmert’s generous offer. Olmert’s generous offer, of course, is based on Barak’s generous offer at Taba. In both cases the Palestinians said “no.” In both cases, it appears the will not be willing to forego sovereignty over the Temple Mount, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state with historic links to the Land of Israel, or give up the idea that any Palestinian descendant of 1948 refugees may move into Israel.