By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMANPublished: SEPTEMBER 24, 2009 23:54Advertisement
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert pleaded with top American officials in an interview taped Wednesday to endorse the far-reaching offer he made to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as their framework for achieving peace.
Speaking to the BBC's Hard Talk program, which will be broadcast Monday, Olmert said he offered the Palestinians the best deal they were ever and will ever be given.
He lamented that the Palestinians rejected the deal, which he said would have been implemented despite the corruption charges that forced him out of office, for which he will stand trial beginning on Friday.
"There will never be a plan for peace between us and the Palestinians that will be more far-reaching than the one I proposed in the past two years," Olmert said.
"I wish I could complete what I've started. I thought and I still believe that we could have completed it while I was prime minister, had I continued to be prime minister. I think that there should be a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians, and there should be no other agreement than the one I proposed to Abu Mazen [Abbas]. There could be an agreement with Syria and there will not be any other agreement than the one I have proposed to President Assad...
"It could have been done - I knew how to do it. I went a long way - longer than any government in Israel would ever go."
Olmert confirmed that he had offered the Palestinians land amounting to 100 percent of the West Bank - which would have been composed of 93 to 94% of West Bank land and the rest made up by territory from pre-1967 Israel - the return of more than a thousand Palestinian refugees to Israel's final borders, and the internationalization of Jerusalem under Israeli, Palestinian, American, Jordanian and Saudi Arabian administration.
He said that had the Palestinians accepted the offer, the international community would have immediately endorsed it, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would not have been elected.
"Had there been such a plan, the outcome of the elections would have been entirely different," Olmert said. "It would have allowed the plan to take place had it been accepted by the Palestinians. They made a dramatic mistake by not responding to me, at a time when it was still early enough to move it forward, build up the international consensus and move it through the public opinion of Israel and the also the public opinion of Palestinians and the international community."
Speaking as US President Barack Obama was vowing to intensify his efforts to find a framework for achieving Middle East peace, Olmert urged him to take his proposal to the Palestinians and make it the basis for renewed talks.
"I've been in politics for the last 35 years, and I could never understand why every new administration thinks it has to start the process from square one," Olmert said.
"Take my peace plan. The Americans know every detail of this peace plan, because I told them. I told George Mitchell, I told Hillary Clinton, I couldn't tell it to President Obama but perhaps soon I'll meet with him and tell him exactly.
"Why go back and start from the scratch instead of taking the proposal that was presented officially by the Prime Minister of Israel, and say to the Palestinians, respond to it and let's complete the process.
"I'll tell you what, I say to George Mitchell, and this one I hope you won't be mad with me but I'll share with you, and millions will be watching us. I say, George, don't start everything from the beginning, go ahead from where it stopped and finish it.
"Otherwise, in four years time, one day, I'll bump into you at the Heathrow Airport in London and I'll ask you, 'George, what are you doing here??' And he will say, 'This is my 60th trip to the Middle East.' Is that what you want?"
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