Olmert: I Offered More than Ever

Olmert says he offered the PA more than was ever offered before; pushes Netanyahu to do the same.

Maayana Miskin ,

Olmert with Abbas
Olmert with Abbas
Israel News Photo: Flash 90

Six months ago, the Israeli government under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinian Authority more than any other government in Israel's history had been willing to give. So said Olmert himself on Thursday, in a speech given at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

"At one point, I put everything on the table and offered Abu Mazen [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas – ed.] an offer that had never been made before, that touched on the core of the conflict and the most heavily emotionally charged issues, the rawest nerves, the historical baggage,” Olmert said, recalling his negotiations with Abbas.

“I told him, 'Come on, sign.' That was half a year ago, and I'm still waiting,” he added.

Olmert called on Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu to follow his lead regarding negotiations. “If we continue to deliberate between the entire Land of Israel and two states for two peoples – we'll be left with one state for two peoples,” he warned.

"The question isn't only whether or not the Palestinians are ready for an agreement,” Olmert said. “The question is also whether or not we will cling to an excuse to conceal our unreadiness to make concessions more painful than those offered by Ehud Barak at Camp David.”

In the Camp David talks, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered then-PA Chairman Yasser Arafat 95 percent of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, including parts of Jerusalem, for the creation of a PA state. Arafat rejected the offer, a move praised by Abbas.

Abbas has demanded that Israel grant the PA 100 percent of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the portion of Jerusalem ruled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, that Israel free all PA Arab prisoners, including arch-murderers, and that Israel offer citizenship to millions of Arabs who claim descent from Arabs who fled pre-state Israel during the War of Independence.

Ready for 'Painful Concessions' to Syria
Olmert also discussed Israeli negotiations with Syria, and implied that Syrian President Bashar Assad was to blame for the failure to reach a deal. “They knew that I understand what we need to give up in order to reach peace,” he said.

Olmert did not give details, but said, “We will need to make a painful, heart-breaking compromise. It will be very difficult to implement, but that's the choice we will have to make.”

Assad has demanded that Israel give Syria the strategic Golan region in exchange for a peace deal. The region is home to tens of thousands of Israelis, and overlooks much of northern Israel.