Had the 2008 peace talks between then-prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continued, they would have succeeded, Abbas
said on Sunday.
Abbas made the statement in a meeting with Kadima MKs,
Labor Knesset candidates and Likud activists who support the Geneva Initiative
at his headquarters in Ramallah. The MKs saw Abbas’s statement as an endorsement
of a possible Olmert comeback.
“There were no failures in the
negotiations,” Abbas told the group. “We reached agreement on all the core
issues. I’m sure that if negotiations continued, within two months we would have
reached an agreement.”
Talks with Olmert ended on August 30, 2008, when
Olmert offered Abbas 100 percent of the West Bank with land swaps, to divide
Jerusalem and to take in thousands of Palestinian refugees.
referred to as the Palestine Papers – the Palestinian equivalent of Wikileaks –
later revealed that Abbas never responded to Olmert’s offer, despite the fact
that Olmert remained prime minister for more than seven months after he made the
offer. But Abbas blamed the lack of progress in the peace process on Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“Netanyahu is destroying a two-state
solution,” he said.
“Some Palestinians have lost hope, and the voices
calling for one state are growing.”
Olmert himself addressed the matter
at The Jerusalem Post
Conference in New York in April. Speaking during a panel
discussion at the event, Olmert said “the Palestinians did not say no to my
peace plan,” adding that Israeli ministers advised the PA president not to
accept the plan.
“First and foremost, the Palestinians are guilty,” he
“They should have answered my plan, and they should have answered
“We are looking for excuses,” Olmert said. “We should
present [the Palestinians] with plans and let them respond.”
Sunday also said that any unity deal with Hamas could only take place if Hamas
accepted a two-state solution, the need to negotiate with Israel and the
principle of nonviolent resistance.
Olmert’s associates said Sunday that
following intensive and serious negotiations with Abbas, the gaps were small and
could have been bridged.
“The fact that the Palestinians did not say no
left open the possibility that they could have said yes. It is clear that the
last three-and-a-half years were not utilized for negotiations that remain in
The Kadima MKs who attended were Shlomo Molla, Nino
Abesadze, Orit Zuaretz and Akram Hasson. Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon came, as did
Labor Knesset candidates Moshe Mizrahi and Michael Biton.
the Right slammed the Kadima MKs for meeting Abbas.
“The break up of
Kadima has made its MKs harm the State of Israel in desperation to get
attention,” Likud MK Danny Danon said. “It just proves why Israelis completely
lost trust in the party.”
Yisrael Beytenu MK Moshe Matalon said he found
it pathetic that the Kadima legislators “tried to use an enemy of Israel and a
Holocaust denier to prevent them from drowning.”