Diplomacy

Territory or Ideology: Will the Palestinians Accept Peace? If Olmert’s Offer Wasn’t Enough, How Can Anyone Believe Abbas Will Say ‘Yes’?

Revelations made regarding the details of a 2008 peace offer by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are calling into question the willingess of the PA – and of broader Palestinian society – to accept a peace deal with Israel.

In details revealed on TheTower.org, Abbas declined to make a historic peace deal in 2008, the details of which were documented at the time by sketches and notes drawn by Abbas himself.

Among the concessions, Olmert essentially agreed to an unprecedented compromise over the Holy Basin, including the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism. He proposed that in the context of a permanent peace agreement, a special committee with representatives from five countries – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the United States, and Israel – would administer the critical area. As his advisors gathered around him, Abbas told them that the Israeli prime minister had presented him with not only the details of the agreement but also a large map, which laid out the borders of the future Palestinian state.

The incident will be taken by skeptics of Palestinian intentions as yet another example of a Palestinian leader turning his back on a peace deal – and with it, statehood and the end of claims between the two sides.

The dynamic calls into question the basic willingness of the Palestinian leadership to accept any peace agreement with the Jewish state.

For more than sixty years, successive Israel leaders have taken risks for peace, and have often had to suffer the consequences when those risks turned into sacrifices.

Today, such an offer, particularly as it relates to the Jordan Valley, is all but inconceivable. Given the chaos that has swept the Middle East since that potentially historic night in September 2008 – with security now deteriorating or having collapsed in every country bordering Israel – Olmert’s offer contains elements that are now simply incompatible with fundamental Israeli interests.

This dramatic episode shows the Palestinian leadership once again walking away from peace. It raises the fundamental question: What is the nature of the conflict for the Palestinian leadership? Is it a matter of territory, or is it a matter of ideology: a basic unwillingness to live in peace with Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people?

[Photo: MrLifestyletime / Youtube]