Abbas: Olmert negotiations would have succeeded

PA president says talks would have yielded agreement had Olmert remained PM, accuses Netanyahu of "destroying 2-state solution."

Mahmoud Abbas UN 370 (photo credit: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
Mahmoud Abbas UN 370
(photo credit: Scott Eells/Bloomberg)
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.
Documents 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 said.
“They should have answered my plan, and they should have answered Barak’s plan.”
“We are looking for excuses,” Olmert said. “We should present [the Palestinians] with plans and let them respond.”
Abbas on 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 Israel’s interests.”
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.
Lawmakers on 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.”