Olmert shelves U.S. proposal for negotiations with Abbas

By Aluf Benn, Haaretz

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected, during his visit to the United States last week, a proposal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel negotiate a permanent settlement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Rice supports talks on a “shelf agreement” that would outline the permanent settlement but not be implemented immediately because of Abbas’ weak standing.

In Rice’s view, merely reaching such an agreement in principle would provide the Palestinians with a “political horizon” and hope, thereby encouraging them to fight terror and to establish governing institutions in preparation for an independent state.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni shares Rice’s approach, but Olmert is strongly opposed to the idea. He believes that any settlement reached should be implemented, and fears a situation in which Israel approves the agreement, but Abbas fails to sell it to the Palestinian public. In that event, Israel might be pressured to make further concessions to make Abbas’ task easier.

Olmert agreed several months ago to launch talks with Abbas over “a political horizon,” on condition that these deal not with the three core issues – Jerusalem, permanent borders and the refugees – but only with the nature of the future Palestinian state, its systems of government and law and security arrangements for the territories. Political sources in Jerusalem say that as Abbas becomes stronger and more able to sell the agreement to his people, Israel will agree to expand the discussion agenda to include the core issues.

The disagreement between Rice and Olmert was evident at the White House lunch meeting given by President George W. Bush for Olmert and senior U.S. and Israeli aides. As published previously in Haaretz, Rice talked about the importance of giving the Palestinians hope, “so that a Palestinian boy doesn’t want to commit suicide when he grows up.” Olmert countered that Israel has paid a price for its mistakes in negotiating with the Palestinians, and spoke about the horrific suicide bombings he saw in Jerusalem after the failed summit at Camp David and the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.

June 23, 2007 | 6 Comments »

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6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. Olmert has shown himself to be more of a man than most of us have imagined. The time is propitious for Israel to gain real advantage by removing all menace from its borders once and for all.
    “If not now, when?”
    Scorpio

  2. I agree with Bill…Was pleasantly surprised at Olmert’s resisitance to American arm-twisting…Now, need to find a way to send packing Condi’s Israeli puppy dog, Tzipi Livni…She make Olmert look like Menachem Begin

  3. By the end of the year assuming the the Winograd commission or the state Inspector General or the Attorney general do come to the fore to help remove Olmert and Little Zippi and also asumming that Olmert dosen`t start a war to save his ASS, Bush will really be Lame Duck and Condi will be trying on the NFL or heading some University No One in this administration will have the political clout to do anything that might hurt their party in next years elections. In the run up to elections Bush will stay out of the limelite as much as possible as he is a detriment not an asset. Israel will have almost 2 years of non American pressure till next administration has all on board and formulates any policy. Hard to see Bush after Jan 08 attacking Iran or anyone else for that matter as his political hands will be tied .
    With Hamas having split the Palis. into 2 distinct entities and geographies, and both will seek to out do the other in who is most patriotic by attacking Israel as well as ea. other Hamas will come out on top as it has the stronger ideology and religious commitment and are not tainted with the same corruption as the Fatah. Abbas will be in Egypt or some European cap. with his stolen fortune or dead by the end of the year. The new leadership will be the radical and militants (who have been fighting us since Oslo with much success) and are popular on the Pali street. Any idiot should know that Bush today and especially tomorrow has almost no clout against Israel a year and a half before next presidential elections and an election process that has already begun especially when his poll numbers are today lower than Nixons were after Watergate. Any negatives he might impose and I doubt any would be will be at worst temp. until ext administration takes over. And by then situation on the ground will dictate policy not dogma, at least I hope not.

  4. I found this of considerable interest,

    Olmert agreed several months ago to launch talks with Abbas over “a political horizon,” on condition that these deal not with the three core issues – Jerusalem, permanent borders and the refugees – but only with the nature of the future Palestinian state, its systems of government and law and security arrangements for the territories.

    We have been told that the three issues mentioned are the areas of disagreement.

    But the things which Olmert is prepared to discuss go to the root of sovereignty i.e. the nature of the state. They include such issues as de-militarization, air rights, defense contracts with other Arabs states. You get the idea. Olmert is right. Before going to borders etc, sovereignty must be defined.

  5. Contrary to what is generally believed, this report, if accurate means that Olmert does have some will to resist American pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians including a concession to hold talks for appearances sake.

    Americans still seem fond of using the expression “confidence building measures” to describe Israeli baby step concessions America demanded of Israel in favor of the Palestinians which phrase was popularlized by George Mitchell in his Mitchell plan to have Israel and the Palestinians inch forward towards peace.

    As things have turned out, most of the confidence building measures Israel has taken at the behest of America have been successful in building Palestinian confidence that Israel is being weakened thereby and if Palestinians continue to hold fast to their Jew hating dream for Israel’s elimination, America will push Israel to weaken further and the Arafat dream for Israel’s destruction in stages over time will be realized.

    Americans really do need a reality check!

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