When I saw the mostly right-wing constellation of speakers (e.g., Caroline Glick, John Bolton, Danny Danon) at the April 28th New York conference sponsored by the Jerusalem Post, I knew that I didn’t want to attend. Two articles, one in the Jerusalem Post and another in the Open Zion blog, have confirmed that I was correct.
Alan Dershowitz wound up being one of two relative moderates booed by the audience as he presented a plan to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The plan– which he presented for consideration to P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas recently– is not a be-all and end-all, but it’s an honest attempt to get things started again. He proposes that Israel freeze construction beyond the settlement blocs and that the Palestinians not go to the International Criminal Court.
He advises against construction in areas of “reasonable disagreement,” but it’s not clear if even he knows what these are. Would this mean a freeze in the Ariel bloc, a salient projecting deeply into the West Bank, which the Palestinians object to, or in East Jerusalem (where construction is proceeding aggressively), or in the E-1 corridor to Ma’aleh Adumim, an area of intense dispute?
The other unpopular speaker was former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who asserted dovish views that rankled most of the audience. Sigal Samuel’s report in Open Zion, “Olmert plays the clown at Jerusalem Post conference,” was mistitled. Olmert’s speech was serious, even as he jousted in ironic terms with his hecklers. With the realistic concerns he expressed, one wonders why he wasn’t more resolute when he was prime minister in going the extra mile needed for a peace agreement with Pres. Abbas that was within his grasp.
He still defends his overly aggressive Operation Cast Lead military campaign into Gaza. It is especially mysterious as to why Olmert did not send envoys to Washington, DC in January, 2009, to conclude negotiations under the good auspices of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice during their last weeks in office, as told us last year by Yasser Abed Rabbo (and confirmed by Bernard Avishai).