Opinion

Opinion

Missed Mideast opportunity

October 27, 2011

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To the catalog of missed opportunities for peace in the Middle East, we can add a tantalizing if also depressing chapter: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s secret offer in 2008 to create a Palestinian state that would feature international control of holy sites in a divided Jerusalem — a concession many Israelis have said was impossible.  

Condoleezza Rice discusses the Olmert proposal in her new memoir, “No Higher Honor.” She writes that as she listened to Olmert’s plan during a May 2008 visit to Israel, she asked herself (and the emphatic italics are hers in the text): “Am I really hearing this? ... Concentrate. Write this down. No, don’t write it down. What if it leaks? It can’t leak; it’s just the two of us.”

As Rice tells the story, Olmert developed a comprehensive plan, which he presented secretly to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, in the summer of 2008. By September, the details of Olmert’s offer included:

• Israeli transfer of sovereignty of 94.2 percent of the West Bank to the new Palestinian state. He offered additional swaps of land, and a corridor linking the West Bank and Gaza, that would bring the total Palestinian land area to 100 percent of the pre-1967 borders of the West Bank.

• A formula for dividing Jerusalem that would give Arab neighborhoods to the Palestinians and Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, with negotiators working out the status of mixed neighborhoods. Each country would have Jerusalem as its capital; there would be a joint city council with an Israeli mayor and a Palestinian deputy mayor.

• The Old City would be administered by an international committee with representatives from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the United States. Questions of sovereignty in Jerusalem would be fudged, with each side rejecting the other’s claims.

• The “right of return” for Palestinians would be limited to about 5,000. To compensate other Palestinian refugees, a fund of several billion dollars would be created, under Norwegian administration.

• The U.S. would protect Israel’s security not just with American power but by training a reliable Palestinian security force.

And what happened to this miraculous package? Because it’s the Middle East, you know the answer: It died, with the United States on the sidelines hoping and praying, but Olmert and Abbas too weak politically to take the leap.  

The collapse came the moment it seemed to become real. In September 2008, Olmert showed Abbas a map charting the boundaries of the new state. According to Rice, he asked Abbas to sign the deal on the spot, but the Palestinian leader balked and asked to consult his experts first. Olmert wouldn’t let him take a copy of the map, and the follow-up meeting never happened.  

 President Bush tried to revive the deal when the leaders separately visited Washington in November and December, but by then Olmert was under investigation for corruption charges, and Abbas apparently decided he could get a better deal with a Democratic president. “The conditions were almost ripe for a deal on our watch, but not quite,” writes Rice.

What followed this near miss? That’s the most depressing part of the story. Rice kept mum, but she gave the new administration details of Olmert’s offer, including a State Department version of the map. She hoped the U.S. would use Olmert’s plan as a building block for negotiations — and perhaps even submit it to the U.N. Security Council.

But in one of President Obama’s biggest mistakes, he decided to start negotiations all over — and to demand an Israeli settlement freeze as a test of wills. What a mistake. He was outfoxed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the new Israeli prime minister. Three years later, the peace process is a lifeless corpse.

Rice says she decided to go public with the Olmert plan now because “we’ve gone so far backward” that the peace process seems like “a lost cause.” The lesson of the Olmert gambit, she explained in an interview, is that “an Israeli-Palestinian deal is doable, but they can’t keep missing opportunities.”

Back when she organized the Annapolis peace conference in November 2007, Rice was criticized as overoptimistic. But there was more to the process than many commentators realized. I suspect all the parties would like to rewind the tape to Annapolis — most especially, the Israelis.

Olmert’s map, now dust in the wind, may be the best formula we’ll ever get for the peaceful creation of the Palestinian state that will cement Israel’s own security.

— David Ignatius is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email is davidignatius@washpost.com.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 7 months ago

"Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." - Abba Eban

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

And this is the way uncritical supporters of Israel spin everything.

It's clear from the article that neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis ever got the chance to seriously consider this plan, but that it wasn't ever even negotiated much less approved is completely the fault of the Palestinians.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Fault of the Palestinians? Well, Abbas, for sure.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

See jafs post below (and/or read the article again.)

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Let's see: one man with the power brings forth a list of concessions even Rice can't believe are being offered, the other apparently doesn't have the backbone or intelligence to act. And I would suspect he prudently didn't allow the map to be shown around because of the secrecy of the whole deal; the wrong people on either side get wind of it and it crashes in on itself due to rhetoric.
They'd have the West Bank back, neighborhoods divided rationally, Jerusalem open again, an international arbiter, active roles in the city council, and compensation. Whatta they got today?

Abbas blew it.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

It does seem like a pretty good deal all around.

But, demanding that Abbas sign it, without having the chance to bring it to his people, and discuss it first, is obviously unreasonable.

A cynical possibility is that Olmert didn't really want the deal to go through, and wanted to be able to claim he offered Palestinians a great deal, and they refused it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"A cynical possibility is that Olmert didn't really want the deal to go through, and wanted to be able to claim he offered Palestinians a great deal, and they refused it."

This has been a long-standing Israeli tactic.

Either offer something behind closed doors that they know they'll never follow through on, or make demands of the Palestinians that they know the Palestinian leadership can never get their people to accept, and then claim that it's the Palestinians who are negotiating in bad faith.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

The cynical possibility only makes sense if Condi Rice was on board with the ploy. She was astounded that Olmert was making such a proposal. Yet, there it was. There is no evidence that it was anything other than a legitimate proposal. Abbas rejected it, for whatever reason. You may agree with his rejection. You may disagree, but it's his rejection nonetheless.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely, jhawkinsf.

As to bozo's mythical "long-standing Israeli tactic": You know this .........how? If this deal was such a false tactic, why then would it mirror a similar proposal made by Arafat at Camp David in 2000, only a heck of a lot better?

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/740432/Palestinians-peace-plan-may-get-them-West-Bank.html?pg=1

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"Abbas rejected it, for whatever reason."

He didn't "reject" it. As proposed, it was total BS, so any acceptance would have been just as disingenuous as the proposal.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

BS? The American Sec. of State didn't think it was BS. She thought is was astounding. How should I weigh your assessment against her assessment?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Jeez, talk about making up facts to fit your argument.

From the information presented in this article, there was never a serious offer. Just an idea floated by Olmert that was withdrawn before it could even be negotiated (and there will never be a peace proposal that becomes an actual treaty without negotiation.)

And do you really think Abbas had the sole right to make the decision to accept this non-offer? Do you really think that Olmert had the sole right to offer it? That's what you're implying.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone think that Abbas has the sole right to make that type of decision? That's a good question. Did Sadat have the backing of the Egyptian people? Did Begin have the backing of the Israelis? Certainly there are times when leaders need to lead and other times when they need to listen to their people. Is Abbas a leader or a follower?
I don't pretend to know all the answers. But what I read into this was that despite opposition on the Israeli side, Olmert was saying he can deliver. Abbas was saying he can not.
And this just shows what I've said so many time, the P.A. is not a legitimate peace partner because they are unable to deliver should legitimate peace proposals be made. And Rice clearly felt that this was a legitimate peace proposal. The P.A. needs to emerge from it's position as a player amongst many to a position of leadership in order for them to become that partner that is needed. I hope they succeed in that, but they are not there yet.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"Did Sadat have the backing of the Egyptian people? Did Begin have the backing of the Israelis?"

Do I need to point out to you that there is an Egyptian state, and an Israeli state, but there is no Palestinian state? Or that one of the main reasons Hamas is now the elected governing party of Gaza is because Israel propped them up during the 80's in order to foment civil war among the Palestinians? (not that it'll have any effect on your granite wall of denial.)

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

I'd like you to point out one fact I made up, please.

The article refers to the event as an "offer" and a "proposal." Rice described it as a "comprehensive plan." But thanks for showing us what you mean by "making things up."

And why not? It's the only way anything will ever get done over there, the more cooks in the kitchen the sooner deals turn to gruel. It needs to be one on one and they can discuss with their particulars away from the table. It seems logical Olmert couldn't have devised such a comprehensive plan by himself, so there had to be Israeli's involved.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

And, yet, he didn't give Abbas the same opportunity to consult with his people.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps not, but taking a deal back to a divided Palestine contingent would probably have ended the same way. Too many extremists still calling for the extinction of Israel and never open to any concessions other than getting everything they want.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Maybe.

But, the whole thing is odd. Both sides have been in an extended conflict for a long time, with bad faith and bad actions on both sides.

Then, Olmert makes this offer, but declines to let Abbas take the map and discuss it with the people he represents before deciding.

In what universe is that even remotely reasonable?

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Like I've been saying, 'that' universe. The only times those sides have come reasonably close to a deal is when it's been the leaders only. Other voices from either side seem only to ruin all possibilities.

I agree it's definitely odd, but then the fact they've been able to keep this feud up for decades sheds a little light on how irrational all involved tend to be.

Also, it's not like Abbas hadn't already discussed the deal with his constituents by the time they got to the map stalemate. Rice saw the plan in May; Olmert first proposed the plan sometime that summer; and by September Olmert had come back with that final package. Abbas had to have had talks with his own prior to presentation of the map.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

So why refuse to let him take the map and discuss it?

I agree the whole situation is far from reasonable, and has been that way for a long time.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't know, jafs. But Israel was the one making the concessions, all to the benefit of the Palestinians. It must not have been egregiously one-sided or Abbas would have objected rather than think it reasonable to take back to his experts. All those concessions and you're gonna let it die over a map? A real country with your own land, Jerusalem open again, a say at the council table, billions in compensation, nearly the entire West Bank - but you opt for the status quo?

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

I would never have agreed to a final settlement without discussing the particulars, and showing the map to my partners/constituents.

Would you?

Again, if Olmert was serious, why not let Abbas take the map and consult?

If he had done that, and Abbas and the Palestinians had refused, I would become more pro-Israel than I am today.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Would I? Hell yes! They already knew the particulars, AND they had/have NOTHING! What was Abbas giving up? Bupkiss. Here comes Israel with a gratis gift package and you need to talk it over? Otherwise our people can just continue to live in poverty and resort to terrorism?

And what do you mean "if Olmert was serious"? Does this sound like a game? Forget the map. They have nothing now. Israel was conceding more than Rice could believe. Sorry, you take that package.
Instead he got greedy and waited on Obama. Serves him right, though not his people.

Olmert formulates the plan, increases the proposals which are all conceding property, wealth, religious sites, holy land, and power to the Palestinians, as well as acquiesced to an international council for religious matters. All things they do not have. And you need more to be pro-Israel because of a map?

Abdu Omar 3 years, 7 months ago

Let's say America was in the same situation as Palestine. Would any President no matter the political party, agree to a proposal without the consent of Congress?

If a proposal is secret and is withdrawn it isn't a proposal at all. Abbas had every right to discuss it with his constituents but since Olmert hadn't the political clout in Israel to make this offer and conclude the deal (he would have been out voted in the Knesset). This is why he made the offer a one time only proposition.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

If America was in the same situation as 'Palestine', there wouldn't be a Congress. Abbas had/has nothing to bargain with except terror. When you have nothing and have nothing to offer, you have no leverage.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes, of course it's a game. Politics is full of games.

If he was serious, he would have allowed Abbas to take the map and show it to others before deciding. There is a lot of bad faith on both sides, and mistrust, understandably. Both sides probably feel that the other side is trying to trick them in some way.

It's interesting, of course, that you frame this as concessions from Israel that the Palestinians should be grateful for, rather than a negotiation between sides.

Yes, as I said, if he had let Abbas take the map and consult first, I would move over to the more pro-Israel side. But his refusal to do that keeps me in the middle, where both sides look flawed to me.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Hey, no arguing the flaws from me!
And yes, I view it as concessions from Israel because what does Abbas have to offer? Aside from ending the terrorism?

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Figures. Ask bozo to back something up and it's crickets.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Jeez, you fabricate hours worth of posts out of whole cloth, and that makes you some sort of expert.

What a joke.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes, you certainly are. Still waiting........

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Did you see the part where Olmert refused to let Abbas take the map and speak with his supporters?

And demanded he sign on the spot without doing so?

It seems like a very good possible solution - it's a shame that it never got anywhere.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

Dig a little deeper. Look at what it says, but try to figure out why it was said. Rice refused to even write down the proposal, too afraid that a leak would kill the deal. Why? Because leaks kill deals. For whatever reason, leaks kill deals. Olmert didn't want Abbas taking the map, consulting with his people because he knew what Rice knew. A leak would kill the deal. Taking the map to his people and consulting with them sounds good and reasonable, but it would mean the death of the proposal. That's why Olmert acted in the way he did. The problem is that within both sides, there are people who are unwilling to compromise. Leak the proposal to them and they will kill the deal. What Olmert was saying to Abbas was this, "I'm willing to be a bold leader. I have opposition to deal with, just as you do. But I'm willing to force the issue, knowing that I can overcome my opposition and I can make this happen. Can you, Mr. Abbas"? What Abbas said to Olmert was, "No, I cannot overcome my opposition. I am not a strong enough leader, or my opposition is too strong. I cannot deliver a peace agreement at this time". This incident confirms what I've believed for a long time. That is that when the Palestinians are ready to make a bold leap forward and make peace with the Israelis, the Israelis will be there ready to do so. The Israelis have been ready at times and they will be again. The Palestinians have not been ready in the past. They are not ready now. Will they every be ready is the question only they can answer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, I guess your historical fiction about this event is at least as good as anybody else's.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

How is it fiction. Clearly Rice believed that a leak would kill the deal. Was she wrong? It seems clear that Olmert's actions were based on the same conclusion. Was he also wrong? Maybe both were indeed wrong and that you're right. But then you can't be blaming just the Israelis. You would also have to include Rice and her belief that this was a bold, legitimate offer made with good intentions. You can certainly disagree, but perhaps you'd care to give some insight as to why you believe both Rice and Olmert were disingenuous and Abbas' rejection was the better path.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

If I were Abbas, I wouldn't agree to any deal without discussing it with the people I represented.

The same would be true if the positions were reversed, and Olmert was the one offered a deal.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"How is it fiction."

Do I really need to spell it out to you?

Olmert proposed something he couldn't deliver. Rice knew it. Abbas knew it, but you want to make this out as Abbas turning down a winning lottery ticket (when in fact, there wasn't even a lottery.)

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

If Olmert and Rice both knew the proposal was something that they could not deliver, then they were both part of some conspiracy, right? But by keeping it all secret, what is there is to be gained? Nothing.
I don't understand the point then. Do you think this was all an elaborate joke, something like an April fools prank committed by the Israeli Prime Minister and the United States Secretary of State at the expense of Abbas?
Using logic, please explain that.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Unlike you, I don't claim to know what their motivation was. But clearly, the way it was presented does NOT indicate that they thought it had a high likelihood of being anything but dead in the water among those who control Israeli policy, or among the very powerful supporters of Israel in the US who hold effective veto power over US policy on the issue of Israel/Palestine.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Your interpretation is yours, and your conclusions aren't surprising, given your pro-Israel bias.

I just read the facts, and it's clear to me that it's not reasonable to offer a deal and demand it be signed immediately, without giving the other side time to discuss it.

You have no idea what Olmert did or didn't do before offering the deal.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

I'll use some logic and try to figure out what Olmert did and didn't do. He formulated this plan with the smallest number of people, all supporters of the peace process and all supporters of Olmert. I'll bet he specifically excluded both opponents of him and opponents of the peace process. In that manner, he behaved like a politician, not surprising since in the end, that's what he is. What he was asking of Abbas was to behave in the same way. Taking the map out of the room, taking it to a broader Palestinian negotiating team would have meant that they would then come back with a counter proposal, one even sweeter that what Olmert proposed. While that makes sense, it also means that Olmert's political adversaries would now know what had gone on behind their backs and the process would end. Dead. Jafs, there is a huge difference between what anyone would do in a perfect world and what can be accomplished in the real world. You're fixated on the one and only best possible path to peace, even though it has shown itself to be nothing but a dead end. It's a mirage, let it go.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

That's all speculation.

And, it serves to further your pro-Israel stance, and make the Palestinians look bad.

I think that's called "bias confirmation".

Also, of course, any deal like that would probably not have been very successful, given opposition on both sides, if you're correct about that. That's the "real world".

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

The "real world". Ala bozo. The straight lines are innumerable.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

Whether or not I have a bias doesn't change the fact that the analysis I've provided is more likely to be true that any other explanation I've seen. My bias aside, we're talking about a situation confirmed by Condi Rice. The proposal, the need for secrecy, these are things that are coming from her. All I've done to give my best explanation as to why those things happened. She thought the proposal was beyond anything she could have hoped for and she believed in the need for secrecy. If you have problems with that, then your problem isn't with me or with my bias, it's with the way she was interpreting the situation.
Personally, I believe some people and disbelieve others. The American Secretary of State carries more weight than say some anonymous poster here. A well known political scientist, an expert in the region would carry more weight than say some actor who spouts off on some subject. In this case, we're not just talking about Olmert vs. Abbas. Or we're not talking about Israel vs. the Palestinians. There is something that tips the scales toward one line of thought and against another. That which breaks the tie is Rice and her analysis.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Rice's analysis? What analysis? She merely reported that she did nothing. That's not "analysis." And if there is any underlying analysis to be divined from what's in this article, it's that she knew the proposal was dead in the water. Why else would she be afraid if it leaked out? What did she think was going to happen?

She doesn't say, but somehow or another, just as you always do, no matter how the winds blow, you'll interpret anything and everything as an evil Palestinian act.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

First, Rice's analysis was that she thought the Israeli proposal gave more in the way of concessions that she believed they were willing to give. That's her analysis. She also was afraid that leaks would kill the deal. That's her analysis.
I simply gave what I thought was my best explanation of why that was true. But the original analysis that a leak would kill the deal was hers.
Finally, I said elsewhere that opponents on both sides exist. I said a leak would cause opponents on the Israeli side to sabotage the deal. I believe the same could be said for the other side. I certainly did not say anything like it was an evil Palestinian act. You're twisting things and trying to put words in my mouth that I did not say. I'll say again, opponents on BOTH sides would kill the deal if leaks got out. BOTH. BOTH BOTH. Can you read English? BOTH.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Just a few months later, Israel invaded Gaza, killing 1400 people, mostly civilians and non-combatants, at least 1/3 of them women and children, destroying numerous schools, hospitals, farms, basic infrastructure and manufacturing facilities in the process.

Sounds like one side was intent on killing way more than just this deal.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

There are consequences for rejecting legitimate peace proposals, then lobbing bombs into you neighbors' territory all the while hiding behind the skirts of women and children. Another missed opportunity resulting in tragic consequences in a long line of missed opportunities resulting in tragic consequences.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Actually, there was a ceasefire in effect just before the attack. A ceasefire that was broken by Israel, not Palestinians.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

There is a continual pattern, one that has been played out a thousand times. A ceasefire exists. Some faction or another starts lobbing projectiles over into Israel. Missiles land here or there, they're crude enough that no one really knows where they're going to land. Some land near populated areas, many don't. Sometimes people are hurt, mostly they're just terrorized. Eventually, Israel gets fed up with it and goes in with overwhelming force and many are killed and hurt. It's unfortunate, but the pattern is always the same. Israel does not just go in with overwhelming force unless provoked. That's the pattern. It's happened so many times, it predictable. Breaking the cycle is as easy as controlling the missiles coming over the border. Stop that and the overwhelming force stops as well. To which ceasefire you're referring, I don't know. There have been so many. But I'm certain that if you gave a date of a specific of a specific use of Israeli force, there would be reports of missiles coming over the border leading up to that use of force. It's just the way both sides do things over there. Very regrettable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

And here's your continued pattern-- there is no cycle of violence-- merely senseless acts of provocation by the Palestinians, and wholly defensible acts of retaliation by Israel. Never mind that it's Palestinians who live in a stage of siege, or that their houses, schools, businesses and farms get bulldozed, their lands seized, or that they die at many times the rate that Israelis do, or that a single Israeli soldier held captive by Palestinians is considered an outrage by Israelis, who see nothing wrong with holding thousands of Palestinians in prison for many years, often without charges or trials.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

There are many things the Israeli do that I disapprove of. I do not approve of their use of collective punishment. I do not believe in bulldozing the homes of the families of terrorists. I wish their use of force could be more directed to minimize civilian casualties. On the other hand, I wish para-military units wore uniforms so they could be legitimately be targeted while civilians could then be spared. I wish mosques and schools were not used to store weapons and ambulances used to transport those weapons. That makes them legitimate military targets but increases the likelihood that schools and mosques will be mistakenly targeted. I wish rockets were not launched from the roofs of civilian apartment buildings.
Please note that I mentioned both sides, the problems I have with both. That contrasts with what you just wrote above, your paraphrasing skills are dead wrong. Again.

Getaroom 3 years, 7 months ago

In fact, no matter who is being quoted, or from which "side", the same can be said for some but not all Israelis Ron and you know it! Shame on you, you know far better than to post this drivel. Some of us who read the posts have actually studied the history of that region and some truths and facts simply cannot be denied. There is pain enough on both sides of this issue and frankly most of that pain has come directly from the practice of Religious Ideology and the worst of it I might add. There are demons enough to go around and you need not add to it.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 7 months ago

Drivel?

Maybe I should have put Abba Eban's quote in context for you. I had just assumed it was well known. It's very, very old. If it's true that you have read some history of the Middle East you would obviously know quite a lot about him.

"Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." - Abba Eban, made after the Geneva peace talks in December 1973

A clip: (granted, only from Wikipedia, but it is sourced, unlike most of the comments in here, and so it is therefore surely more or less true) "From 1966 to 1974, Eban served as Israel's foreign minister, defending the country's reputation after the Six-Day War. Nonetheless, he was a strong supporter of trading parts of the territories occupied in the war in exchange for peace. He played an important part in the shaping of UN Security Council Resolution 242 in 1967, as well as Resolution 338 in 1973. Among his other high level contacts, Eban was received by Pope Paul VI in 1969.[5]

Eban was at times criticized for not voicing his opinions in Israel's internal debate. However, he was generally known to be on the "dovish" side of Israeli politics and was increasingly outspoken after leaving the cabinet. In 1977 and 1981 it was widely understood that Shimon Peres intended to name Eban Foreign Minister, had the Labor Party won those elections. Eban was offered the chance to serve as minister without portfolio in the 1984 national unity government, but chose to serve instead as Chair of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee from 1984 to 1988.

His comment that Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" (i.e., for peace), made after the Geneva peace talks in December 1973, is often quoted.[6]."

A clip from: http://www.isracast.com/article.aspx?id=118 "Abba Eban, orator, Israeli statesman and diplomat, Foreign Minister from 1966 to 1974, was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and brought up in England. He studied oriental languages and classics at Cambridge University, England, where he was a lecturer in Arabic from 1938 to 1940. He was already a public speaker of caliber and renowned for his presence at debates on the Middle East."

"Following the Yom-Kippur War of October 1973, Abba Eban helped bring about a disengagement of Egyptian and Israel forces in Sinai."

"A figure of multiple accomplishments, Eban was fluent in ten languages, with the dual vocation of statesman and erudite academic. Throughout his career, he found time to publish meticulous and detailed historical works based on his vast knowledge and personal experience."

If that's all drivel, the world no doubt needs a lot more of it.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 7 months ago

While I have studied some history of the region, most of the information I read is from current news sites. Along with reading the major news outlets, I receive regular emails from: Freemuslims.org Bitterlemons.net Jpost.com

Getaroom 3 years, 7 months ago

Bull math. Not worth a debate and especially with that mind of yours so narrowly focused all the time. Just talk to the TV, tuned into Faux News, and it will be your perfect companion and reflection. You might want to consider staying compliant with your meds too. Please do not keep self medicating with the blog, it just makes a mess of everything.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 7 months ago

From what I've read of recent events concerning Middle East politics, a position held by many is that the best that can be hoped for at the moment is to contain the conflict, and hopefully within the next few generations a solution will be found that is to the satisfaction of most.

Very much like the fact that the Greek Empire, Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, Prussia, and Kurdistan are gone today, and there are no more wars concerning them.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

I wouldn't say they were the only two, but they definitely were two of the few.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

There are two lines of thinking here. One is the specific proposal, the other is the process. For the moment, I'd like to put this proposal aside and discuss the process. We can come back to the proposal later. The process is broken. The process does not yield the desired results. While the process sounds good in theory, in reality, it doesn't work. Arguing for the process is to argue for failure. Let me give you two examples of what I mean. The U.S. reaching out to China. It has often been said that only a devoted anti-communist like Nixon could have made that move. For all of Nixon's faults, his opening the doors to China is held out as his finest move. Yet, that trip was made in secret, not the process we usually think of the best way. But it was the only way. Going public ahead of time would have doomed the trip. The reality of American politics would have made the trip impossible. Example two: After Israel's resounding victory in 1967, they were seen as invincible. Sadat was seen as a weak successor to a failed policy. Any attempt on his part to seek peace with Israel would have been seen as him coming, hat in hand. The only way for him to seek peace was to first get legitimacy in war. He didn't need to beat Israel, but he needed to bloody it's nose. And he had to show that he was willing to do just that. The result was that the war in 1973 led to his ability to seek peace on a more equal basis. The peace process for him started with war. Again, maybe not the best solution but one that worked. Back to the process at hand. Olmert's proposal to Abbas. Maybe in a perfect world, Abbas should have had the ability to return to his people to discuss it. But as I said, that process is broke and to advocate it is to advocate for failure. Like Nixon and Sadat, what was needed were leaders willing to think outside the process. Abbas failed.
There has been a suggestion by Bozo that this was nothing but a cynical attempt by Israel. Perhaps that is true. But logic and reasoning suggest otherwise. Bozo can believe anything he wishes, even that 2 + 2 = 5. But a more logical understanding is that this proposal was made in an attempt to bypass opponents on both sides. And yes, opposition resides on both sides. Making this proposal to the American Sec. of State and then withdrawing it just makes Israel's best friend look bad. That's not what happened. It was an end run around the opposition. Olmert believed that he could overcome the opposition on his side. Just as Nixon believed he could force the hand of the anti-communists. Maybe Abbas was thinking of Sadat and what happened to him. Maybe he believed something else. But in the end, when given the chance to make history, he declined. I give full credit for Egypt's peace overtures to Sadat. Menachem Begin just came along for the ride. Abbas had his chance and he decided not to jump on board. History will note this as another missed opportunity.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

If the process is broken, and by that you mean the process of negotiation and attempts by leaders to represent their people, then there is truly no hope for that region.

What on earth could be a good reason to disallow Abbas from taking the map back to his people?

He could have said, as you do, that he thought this was the best/only chance for a real settlement, but to demand immediate acceptance or denial without allowing the discussion seems heavy-handed and odd.

Whether Nixon's trip was a good idea, and whether it should have been more open, are all worth discussing - secrecy in politics doesn't lend itself to creating trust among the citizens.

You give Sadat credit for a peace process that began with a war? What an odd combination of things.

Previously you've blamed Egypt and others for starting wars with Israel.

It seems to me that you're just twisting things around in order to maintain a pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian position.

He didn't make the offer to America - he made it to the Palestinians. And, he didn't withdraw it, he made the offer contingent on acceptance without further discussion, and without taking the map to consult.

So, it's clear that he looks, on first glance, like the good guy - he made a generous offer, and the Palestinians declined it. It's only on further inspection that it looks a bit funny. But even then, pro-Israel folks manage to make Israel the good guy here.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

First, if the process is broken, as I assert, then it's not that there is no hope, it's just that another way must be found. Leader to leader as opposed to drawn out negotiations is another way. There are many different paths. Because Olmert chose this path as opposed to the broken one doesn't mean there is no hope, just that hope must be found in another way. The reason Olmert behaved the way he did, which by the way was exactly the same response Rice had was that if this should leak out, opponents on both sides would sabotage the deal. It was an end run around opponents on both sides. Abbas taking the proposal back would have opened that door and killed the deal. Abbas needed to be a forceful leader at that very moment in history. He who procrastinates is lost. Of course, Abbas could have come back with a counter proposal, but didn't. That would have required going back to that same broken path that is a dead end. Nixon's secret trip was an example of how leaders sometimes must choose a different path. Nixon's trip to China was certainly a good thing then and it continues to be. Sometimes, even in the most open of societies, secrets need to be kept. This is Earth, not Utopia.
I have no problem blaming the Egyptians for things they have done. I have no problem giving them credit when what they have done is positive. Sadat's bold move earned him his Nobel Peace Prize. Begin's was just a gesture. Clearly, Egypt was the cause of the 1967 war and just as clearly it was Egyptian leadership that brought peace between Egypt and Israel. I don't know how you think I'm twisting things. When someone like Bozo comes out with half facts and half truths, I will respond with the other half. That's not twisting, that's filling in the blanks.
"He didn't make the offer to America" - Right, he showed the proposal the the U.S. Sec. of State prior to offering it to Abbas. Why? As allies, they consult with each other. It was done so as not to blindside the U.S. It was a good faith gesture between two allies. If, as Bozo suggests, it was a cynical offer, then Olmert would indeed be blindsiding the U.S. But just as was suggested that the Palestinians were waiting for a better deal after the Democrats were in office, the Israelis were motivated to make this bold offer while their friend were still in office. Blindsiding their best friends in the U.S. was just not in their best interests. The reason it looks funny is because politics makes strange bedfellows. We see it all the time here. Why should it surprise you that it happens there. But the offer was made with the knowledge that the political realities dictated this path. Abbas either didn't see that, as both Olmert and Rice saw, or he didn't have the courage to make such a deal. Or, and I'll repeat this for the umteenth time, the P.A. doesn't have the legitimacy within it's own people to make any deal at all, which means Israel has no legitimate peace partner.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"I don't know how you think I'm twisting things. When someone like Bozo comes out with half facts and half truths, "

Oh, come on, you've spent the whole day puking out zero facts and no truths, but plenty of thinly veiled bigotry. Give me a break.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

Bozo, in past discussions, you've spent much ink telling one side and one side only of the story. I've spent as much time filling in the blanks. Bigotry is a strong word, one I deny emphatically. Earlier in this thread I plainly said that Sadat's Peace Prize was earned while Begin's was less so. Is that an example of bigotry?
And as to giving zero facts, most of this thread has dealt with an interpretation of events. We are all free to use our own judgement there. But again, in the past, it's been you who has given half truths and half facts, trying your best to mislead. You've accused good, honest American citizens of being Israeli agents and when I've called you on it, you've disappeared yourself. To do that to American citizens who happen to be Jewish, that's bigotry.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

Let me repeat what I said above--

"How is it fiction."

Do I really need to spell it out to you?

Olmert proposed something he couldn't deliver. Rice knew it. Abbas knew it, but you want to make this out as Abbas turning down a winning lottery ticket (when in fact, there wasn't even a lottery.)

And an amendment-- if either Olmert or Rice really thought this had a chance of being approved by the far-right factions that control Israel, they'd have presented it in the open, given Abbas a copy of it to confer with other Palestinian leaders, and then let the real negotiations begin.

So why is this now being publicized? Because Israel knows that folks like you and Ron and Jaywalker will completely distort its significance, and make the "failure" completely the fault of Abbas, who in reality, is quite powerless. But it makes a good distraction for Israel as they become ever more marginalized because of their decades-long oppressive tactics and policies towards Palestinians.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

If you can't see the way in which your bias leads to your interpretations and conclusions, I think I can't help anymore with that.

It's very clear to me from our lengthy discussions on this subject.

Abdu Omar 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think that at the time Olmert could have gotten the deal approved in the Knesset. He didn't have the political capital to do that. His constituents would have argued with it and defeated it as he was a weak leader and wasn't taken seriously by the hawkish part of the Israeli politic.

Abbas could have gotten the Palestinians to accept the deal and this would have looked like the Israelis are to blame for it falling apart.

But, in a larger sense, let's get away from the blame game and get down to really negotiating the end to this bloody mess.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

If this deal had been accepted by Abbas, it would have passed the Knesset. It would have had the backing of the U.S. Along with the larger part of Israeli public that wants an agreement done, it would have passed. Your assertion that the Palestinians would have accepted is possible, though it seems less likely. Abbas could not make the critical decision when the time came. Hamas was about to win an election. The Palestinians were as divided as ever.
But to your last point, wanting to get down to negotiating. Sure, sounds good, until one realizes that the process they've been using for a long time has yielded nothing. I said earlier that there are many roads to peace. The road they've taken has proven to be a dead end. They need to find another road. Olmert's proposal, at least the manner in which it was proposed was a different road. If that too is not the correct path, then what raod shall we choose. The paths to peace are many, not unlimited.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"If this deal had been accepted by Abbas, it would have passed the Knesset. "

More historical fiction. Olmert was about to be run out of office. He had no power to even present this to the Knesset (which is dominated by hawks, not people really wanting peace) much less get it passed.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

Do you know it would not have been passed by the Knesset, or are you speculating. Sure, I'm speculating, but with the support of the then Israeli Prime Minister, the United States and had the Palestinian Authority had accepted, their support as well, then yes, I believe the Knesset would have passed the proposal.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

I find it interesting Bozo that you charge me with historical fiction and then immediately say what the Knesset would have done. How is that different from what I'm doing, which is giving my opinion as to what I think would have happened?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

At least my fiction is based on the facts on the ground at the time this so-called proposal was made.

And I'm not creating facts in order to point a finger at Abbas for preventing something that almost certainly was not to be because of the national policy of stubborn intransigence on the Israeli side.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

One question-- If this was/is such a slam-dunk path to peace, what if Abbas said tomorrow that he accepts it as written, do you really think that Netanyahu would go along, and be able to push it through the Knesset?

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Also, why would Obama have opened everything up to negotiations again, rather than following that proposal?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure if the proposal could be revived. Not only is Netanyahu different from Olmert, but there have been significant changes on the ground. Hamas' victory in Gaza calls into question the P.A.'s ability to deliver it's end of the bargain, a guarantee of peace. But I would certainly encourage him to offer the proposal he rejected.
Politics is a crazy thing, both here and there. Rather than Netanyahu pushing the proposal through the Knesset, I think the Knesset would be pushing Netanyahu to either accept or the Knesset would sweep him aside. He's not some all powerful dictator. Israel is a democracy and the P.M. serves at the leisure of the people. And while there is opposition within Israel to any peace, there are more people wanting a peace treaty. Any Prime Minister cannot stand in the way of what the people want, not in a democracy. So Netanyahu would be either forced to accept the proposal or be swept away. It's all speculation, but let Abbas make that proposal, or any proposal at all.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

If Abbas made a proposal, just like the one Olmert did, and required Netanyahu (or any other Israeli representative) to accept it on the spot, without taking the map back and discussing it, would you feel the same way?

Meaning, would you praise Abbas and criticize Netanyahu if he failed to accept it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"He's not some all powerful dictator. Israel is a democracy and the P.M. serves at the leisure of the people. And while there is opposition within Israel to any peace, there are more people wanting a peace treaty."

A majority of Americans think we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, too, but we're only just now getting out of Iraq, and that's only because Iraq has essentially told us to get out.

Which points out a sad fact-- the military/industrial complex has much more control over US foreign policy than voters do, and in Israel, warmongers have even more control over Israeli policy than ours do in the US.

"So Netanyahu would be either forced to accept the proposal or be swept away. It's all speculation, but let Abbas make that proposal, or any proposal at all."

Abbas has made a proposal-- have the UN give Palestinians statehood just as they did Israel sixty some years ago, and let the the Palestinians and Israelis sort out their differences on something approaching equal footing, rather than the Israeli foot on the Palestinian throat. But the powers that be in Israel prefer to dictate terms rather than negotiate them.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 7 months ago

I recall the peace marches in Israel years ago. Thousands took to the streets. I never saw that on the other side. I feel confident that a fair, legitimate peace proposal would be welcomed with open arms. Politicians would embrace it or be swept away. It happened with Egypt's proposal. As I mentioned with Nixon's trip to China, only a staunch anti-communist could make that bold move. With the Egyptian peace accords, it was a very hard line Begin who made that deal. If Netanyahu is unable or unwilling to make that bold move, he will be swept away. It should be noted that in return for peace and nothing more, Israel withdrew from 100% of the lands they conquered from Egypt (except of course, Gaza, which they did not want back, leaving it a political no man's zone in terms of governance, infrastructure, etc.). If that's Israel's history, there is no reason to believe that they wouldn't act accordingly in the future. Letting the Palestinians and Israeli's sort things out is the very hang up they've been having for years. Olmert's proposal was one of many. They can keep making proposals until our grandchildren's grandchildren have grandchildren of their own. At some point, leaders are going to have to accept one of the proposals, or as I suggested, change the process. Or at least consider changing the process. After how many years and how many rejected proposals does one conclude that peace lies down a different path?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm all for a bold offer. But please don't pretend that Olmert provided one that had any potential follow-through.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"Hamas' victory in Gaza calls into question the P.A.'s ability to deliver it's end of the bargain, a guarantee of peace."

That makes absolutely no sense. Hamas was already in control of Gaza when this proposal was made, and Abbas's power has actually increased over the last couple of years, not decreased. (although he's still more of a figurehead than the center of power.)

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