Sunday, July 19, 2009

Olmert on Settlements and Negotiations

Ehud Olmert has published his thoughts on the settlements-negotiations issue in the Washington Post. Olmert is out of power, and though he'd love to come back, he probably won't; so publishing is about the only way still open to him to bolster his legacy. This doesn't make him the most impartial of pundits. At one point in his column he veers into comic farce when describing the agreements between the US and Israel reached by his predecessor Ariel Sharon, which he continued:
Sharon reached understandings with the U.S. administration regarding the growth and building of settlements, as part of the road map. The understandings included that:
-- No new settlements would be constructed.
-- No new land would be allocated or confiscated for settlement construction.
-- Any construction in the settlements would be within current building
-- There would be no provision of economic incentives promoting settlement growth.
-- The unauthorized outposts built after March 2001 would be dismantled (a commitment that Israel, regrettably, has not yet fulfilled).

My italics. Hey Ehud, weren't you the Israeli prime minister who regretably didn't fulfill the commitment?

Still, the column does record once again how uninformed, indeed, unintelligent, the Obama administration's position on settlements has been. Denying the existence of previous agreements, and haggling about things that won't be changed anyway does rather distract from the main issue, which is the Palestinian refusal to make peace:
To this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them. My proposal included a solution to all outstanding issues: territorial compromise, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees. It would be worth exploring the reasons that the Palestinians rejected my offer and preferred, instead, to drag their feet, avoiding real decisions. My proposal would have helped realize the "two-state solution" in accordance with the principles of the U.S. administration, the Israeli government I led and the criteria the Palestinian leadership has followed throughout the years.
I believe it is crucial to review the lessons from the Palestinians' rejection of such an offer.

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