The liberal Canadian-born Israeli analyst, Bernard Avishai, has just leaked (on Facebook) his upcoming New York Times Magazine article, “A Mideast Plan that Still Could Be.” It’s both frustrating and encouraging to reflect on how close Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas came to a peace deal in 2008.
This accompanies his revelation on Facebook: “Here are the makings of a peace plan–preview from next Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, providing the definitive account of what came out of Abbas’ and Olmert’s 36 meetings. Our only hope is an American president willing to embrace their achievement, bridge the small gaps, and rally the world to an American package.”
Avishai’s analysis seems to be the real deal behind the “Palestine Papers” leaked to Al Jazeera a couple of weeks ago; he is more complete and fair-minded than Al Jazeera and the UK Guardian were. And he indicates that both Abbas and Olmert have been crying out for American mediation to iron out the relatively small gaps in their negotiating positions:
… To this day, Abbas still expects America to put the deal over. The gaps appear so pitifully small: Ariel and a couple of other settlements, the question of whether parts of Silwan would be a part of the holy basin, a compromise number on refugees? “We still want bridging proposals,” Abbas told me, adding, “we want America to be a strong broker.”…
OLMERT AND ABBAS conveyed the details of what they had achieved to both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell, the Middle East envoy. Condoleezza Rice, Olmert said, prepared a confidential memo for the incoming administration. He could not understand why Obama “did not adopt these achievements as policy.” Abbas told me he is still waiting for an American initiative….