Aluf Benn has a good scoop in today’s Haaretz: Many details of the “plan” that Olmert claims he presented to Mahmoud Abbas in September 2008, along with a map (PDF here) of the borders he proposed for the Palestinian state.
Olmert’s office said in response to the disclosure of the plan: “On September 16, 2008, [Olmert] presented Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] a map that had been prepared based upon dozens of conversations that the two held… after the Annapolis summit… Giving Abu Mazen the map was conditioned upon signing a comprehensive and final agreement with the Palestinians so it would not be used as an ‘opening position’ in future negotiations the Palestinians sought to conduct. Ultimately, when Abu Mazen did not give his consent to a final and complete agreement, the map was not given to him.”
A glance at the map shows that it would leave many large Israeli settlements in place in the West Bank, while the (designated for Israel) roads linking the settlements in the north of the West Bank would lace their way in an extremely disruptive way between the Palestinian towns and villages of that area, which is the most fertile and heavily populated portion of the West Bank.
Also of key importance: Olmert was proposing that Israel hang onto the entire area within the present municipal boundaries of occupied East Jerusalem, and also annex a further huge chunk extending east to Maale Adumim.
One can immediately understand why Abu Mazen was not prepared to see this as a politically sustainable “final” boundary line between the two states.
The best actual negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians that has been conducted over final-status issues including the border line has been that conducted by the non-official Geneva Initiative. The border line the GI produced is considerably less generous to Israel’s settlers. And in Jerusalem, the GI map allotted the Palestinians significant (though not really contiguous) areas of occupied East Jerusalem, including, crucially, around three-fourths of the Old City.
One important question to ask about Olmert’s proposal and map is, of course, What was the American position on all this? This question is especially important for two reasons:
- The US was the principal sponsor of the post-Annapolis negotiations, as of all the Arab-Israeli negotiations since 1973; and
- The US has continued to funnel huge amounts of military, financial, and political aid to Israel despite the latter’s numerous continued violations of international law in the occupied territories. (So the US is not a neutral party in this dispute.)
But in response to the question above, the US position was, of course, quite absent. There was no US “bridging proposal”, no active US mediation of any kind, no commitment of the instruments of US national power to securing a fair and sustainable outcome, and no US reference to the requirements of international law in this matter.
That makes four US “noes”.
And all four of those “noes” need to change if the US is to retain any credible and legitimate role at all as principal sponsor of this peacemaking task that is so crucial for world peace and for the wellbeing and survival of US troops deployed in tense and distant lands.