A 2008 Offer to the Palestinians

Nov 12th, 2011 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

In the new book by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, there is a startling account of an offer Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, made secretly to Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the summer of 2008.  The details of this offer included:

  1. Israeli transfer of sovereignty of 94.2% of the West Bank to the new Palestinian state.  There was to be additional land swaps and a corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza.  The result would have granted 100% of the pre-1967 borders of the West Bank to the Palestinians.
  2. A formula for dividing Jerusalem that would give Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians and Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, with negotiations to work out the status of mixed neighborhoods.  Jerusalem would be the capital of both, with a joint city council.
  3. The Old City would be administered by an international committee with representatives from Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the United States.
  4. The ?right of return? for Palestinians would be limited to 5,000.  There would be compensation for other Palestinian refugees through a fund of several billion dollars under Norwegian administration.
  5. The US would protect Israel?s security and would also assist in training a reliable Palestinian security force.

In addition, Olmert showed Abbas maps charting the boundaries of this new state and arrangement.  However, the Palestinian leader balked and would not sign the maps or the agreement.  He said he needed to consult with his experts.  He never got back to Olmert.

This is an amazing revelation.  Once again, Israel offered the Palestinians virtually everything they have been demanding.  But they refused!  Further, when President Obama came into office, he did not build on this Israeli offer but instead demanded that Israel cease all settlements as a condition for resumed negotiations.  What a mistake!  I believe that this will be seen as one of the greatest blunders of Obama?s administration in foreign affairs.  It was a disaster!  This account by former Secretary Rice once again illustrates that no matter what Israel offers, the Palestinians will never recognize Israel?s right to exist.  That remains the fundamental issue of the Middle East today.  Unless and until all parties recognize Israel?s right to exist, there can be no peace.

See David Ignatius in the Washington Post (27 October 2011). PRINT PDF

Comments Closed