Hint of Olmert’s peace proposal to Abbas

Hint of Olmert’s peace proposal to Abbas

Until things literally blew up with the Gaza war and Israel’s recent electoral campaign, we at Meretz USA were hearing for a long time — even from Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat — that a peace deal between the Palestinian Authority and Ehud Olmert’s government was in the works. A report in New York’s Jewish Week newspaper suggests what happened: it was Mahmoud Abbas who may have left a deal on the table. What follows is part of this article:

Stephen Cohen, a national scholar of the Israel Policy Forum who recently met with Palestinian officials, said “this is a very active time” in terms of discussions about how to move the peace process forward.

He pointed out that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not responsive to Ehud Olmert’s offer of more than 93 percent of Palestinian territories, in negotiations last year, in part because Fatah “hadn’t resolved internal problems” with Hamas. …

Olmert had proposed placing Jerusalem’s Holy Basin — the areas containing the Old City and surrounding holy sites — under Divine sovereignty and having it administered by a consortium of Saudis, Jordanians, Americans, Israelis and Palestinians.

In addition, he proposed offering the Palestinians 93.5 to 93.7 percent of the Palestinian territories, along with a land swap of 5.8 percent and safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. And the Palestinian refugee issue would be resolved by permitting a small number of Palestinians into Israel as a “humanitarian gesture.”

After Olmert revealed his offer last month, Livni said through a spokesman that she disapproved of the offer. …

By | 2009-07-03T15:21:00-04:00 July 3rd, 2009|Blog|7 Comments


  1. Anonymous July 4, 2009 at 5:38 am - Reply


    Can you explain what you are trying to say here? Because by saying that Abu Mazen may have left the deal on the table, you seem to be implying that he should have taken it, that he missed another opportunity.

    Is it Meretz’s position that giving 7% of the West Bank to Israeli settlers is a serious offer, that it is appopriate, just and will result in a durable peace? (And let’s also bear in mind that Palestinians have often reported that Israeli-reported percentages were deceptive and underestimates).

    Have you traveled around the West Bank Ralph? Do you understand what that 7% does to the West Bank? Have you met the people and Palestinian communities whose land you are proposing to give away to the settlers? On the practical and the moral level, how would you explain to those Palestinians that you are going to give their land to Israeli settlers and destroy their communities?

    Inquiring minds want to know.



  2. Ralph Seliger July 4, 2009 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    There is a deal to be made. Whether the one reportedly offered by Olmert is necessarily it, I can’t say. None of us really know the details.

    The Palestinian negotiators have endorsed the principle of land swaps. This reported deal involved land swaps. If it was left on the table because of the PA problem of how to deal with Hamas, that would have been a shame for everybody concerned.

  3. Yehuda Erdman July 12, 2009 at 6:56 am - Reply

    Ralph and Ted
    I find myself agreeing with both of you because on the one hand having walked the road map to peace for so long, one is desperate for any sign of concrete proposals, wheras having been bitterly disappointed several times in the last 25 years the need for caution is also there.
    My own analysis is that it is highly believable that Olmert and Abbas both made significant progress during the lead up period allowed by GW Bush towards the end of his term of office. The obstacle as always was the rejectionists on both sides; i.e. the great difficulty in selling a deal to their own constituencies.
    This will I believe be overcome by Obama as he has made crystal clear from the outset that he will not tolerate any further obfuscation by either party. Hence the remarkable U-turn by Bib and the remarkable easing of road blocks on the West Bank just announced.

  4. Anonymous July 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Hi Ralph and Yehuda,

    In response to Ralph’s highly qualified, doubletalk non-answer (there may have been a deal, if it was left on the table, that would be a shame, blah, blah), Akiva Eldar writes in Ha’aretz today that:

    “PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed in a lecture in Amman about two weeks ago that the gap between Abbas and Olmert was on the issue of territorial contiguity stemming from the annexation of the “Ariel bloc,” Givat Ze’ev and area E-1. Erekat was convinced that if the Olmert government had remained in office, the agreement would have been within reach.”

    If this is correct, these are very serious obstacles to a viable Palestinian state with any kind of contiguity. Including Ariel and E1 as part of Israel are Bantustan genuine proposals. Does Ralph really not care about the extent and impact of the land swaps that Israel and some members of the international community are trying to foist on Palestinians?

    One has to wonder, why Ralph, an avowed peace supporter who claims to see the Palestinian side, felt the need, based on extremely flimsy information, to publicly accuse Abbas of “leaving a deal on the table.” These types of accusations hearken back to the perpetuation of the myth of Barak’s generous offer, with all its attendant damage.

    Ralph, what originally moved you to write this post?


  5. Ralph Seliger July 13, 2009 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    The bottom line of what Ted brings up here, jives with what I heard about Erekat’s view that a deal was in the works. This is what Ted quotes from Akiva Eldar: “Erekat was convinced that if the Olmert government had remained in office, the agreement would have been within reach.”

    As for the territorial issues regarding Ariel, E-1, etc., I very much want to see these — entirely or in part– traded to the Palestinian Authority. But my point is that a deal was within reach.

    Ted enjoys sniping at me because I’m an evil Zionist.

  6. Anonymous July 14, 2009 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Hi Ralph,

    Have I ever in these posts failed to hone in on specific views you express and positions that you or Meretz take?

    I am really not concerned with how you or Meretz label yourself. It is your highly problematic positions that matter.

    As another excellent example, how can you now reconcile supporting Erekat’s claim that Ariel, E1 etc, were obstacles to the deal and that Olmert needed to stay in power to continue negotiations with your previous claim that Abbas left a deal on the table?! This is a nonsensical position, whatever label you or others choose to identify yourself with.


  7. Ralph Seliger July 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    I’m granting Ted his “gotcha” moment. But ironically, the Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, is expressing more confidence in the possibility of a deal with Israel (at least under Olmert) than Ted, our super pro-Palestinian friend.

    The main point that I keep on stating is that there’s a peace deal to be made that both Israelis and Palestinians can live with and prosper from.

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