Olmert urges Netanyahu to make radical concessions

Former PM says in opinion piece that Netanyahu is an impressive speaker who knows how to speak to Americans in their own language.

Ehud Olmert 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ehud Olmert 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an opinion piece he wrote for Friday’s Yediot Aharonot.
Olmert, who like Netanyahu, received a political boost from speaking to Congress when he was premier, advised Netanyahu that to succeed as prime minister he needed to make concessions to the Palestinians, not speeches to Americans.
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“[Peace] will not be achieved with speeches to Congress or the Knesset, but rather with the courage to [make] decisions that will change a reality that is increasingly creating a substantive threat on the State of Israel’s stature, on the international support it receives, and on its future as a Jewish democratic state,” Olmert wrote.
He called Netanyahu an impressive, skilled speaker, who knows how to communicate with Americans in their own language in a way that touches their hearts. He added that every Israeli should enjoy the positive reception he received in Congress, and be proud.
“This may have been the happiest moment in our diplomatic lives for a while now, and it may remain that way for a long time to come,” Olmert wrote. “Such speeches are important and are a necessary part of the agenda of every statesman, and certainly an Israeli statesman appearing in one of the world’s most important venues. However, such speeches cannot be a substitute for the peacemaking that Israel currently lacks.”
Olmert, who has not ruled out a political comeback if he is cleared in the criminal investigations against him, said Netanyahu should withdraw to borders based on the pre-1967 lines, and give up Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
In his own negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert offered 100 percent of West Bank land (minus 6.8% in land swaps), 10,000 Palestinian refugees returning to within Israel’s final border, and the holy basin around Jerusalem’s Old City coming under joint Israeli-Palestinian-American- Jordanian-Saudi control.
He last met with Abbas on September 16, 2008, five days before he resigned, and more than six months before he left office. Abbas did not respond or make a counteroffer.
“The two-state solution is vital for Israel’s security and existence,” Olmert wrote. “The basis of the 1967 lines is the key to this, and we have nothing to fear in this context.”