Olmert tries a Hail Mary in the WaPo by resuscitating the ‘generous offer’ Predictably, he fumbles.

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 49 Comments

I have a bit of a different take than Phil on Ehud Olmert's oped in today's Washington Post. I don't see hints at the one state solution, but I do see Olmert trying the resuscitate one of the all-time great lies of the Oslo peace process – the generous offer. Similar to how Ehud Barak blamed the Palestinians for not accepting permanent occupation in 2000, Olmert is now trying to claim that it is Palestinian intransigence, not the Israeli colonization of the West Bank, that is somehow to blame for the ongoing conflict. Olmert:

To this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not
accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them. My
proposal included a solution to all outstanding issues: territorial
compromise, security arrangements, Jerusalem and refugees.

It would be worth exploring the reasons that the Palestinians
rejected my offer and preferred, instead, to drag their feet, avoiding
real decisions. My proposal would have helped realize the "two-state
solution" in accordance with the principles of the U.S. administration,
the Israeli government I led and the criteria the Palestinian
leadership has followed throughout the years.

I believe it is crucial to review the lessons from the Palestinians' rejection of such an offer.

It's always difficult to tell with these types of opeds from notable Israelis whether they actually believe the stuff they're writing, or just taking Americans to be such halfwits that they feel they can just lie outright. I think this article is actually a combination of both. Olmert knows perfectly well why "the Palestinian leadership did not
accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal" he offered them. Here are some facts, provided by Ori Nir from Americans for Peace Now, that paint part of the picture:

  • While Olmert held final-status negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas (between the Annapolis Conference in November 2007 and the end of his term), there was a 43% increase in construction-starts in settlements.
  • During Olmert’s term as prime minister, 4,560 new housing units were constructed in settlements and 1,523 new tenders were issued for new housing units.
  • Almost 1,500 new housing units were constructed east of the separation barrier (not in settlement blocs).
  • Some 560 new structures were built in illegal outpost during Olmert’s term.
  • None of the illegal outposts in the West Bank were removed during Olmert’s term.

In addition, Olmert's offer kept the majority of Israeli settlements and infrastructure in the West Bank, and would have resulted in permanent apartheid in the West Bank. Olmert knows this, but I'm sure he sees Israel struggling on the public relations front in the US and figures why not try to dust off one of Israel's greatest propaganda hits to try to gain favor? It's a cynical lie from a politician attempting to fix his image, and a desperate move from a country scrambling to regain its public relation footing. It should be treated as such.

There is one honest point of confusion in this piece. It is when Olmert tries to outline what the conflict is about:

The insistence now on a complete freeze on settlement construction —
impossible to completely enforce — will not promote Palestinian
efforts to enhance security measures; the institution building that is
so crucial for the development of a Palestinian state; better movement
and access to the Palestinians; nor an improved economy in the West
Bank. Nor will it weaken the Hamas government in Gaza. It will not
bring greater security to Israel, help improve Israel's relations with
the Arab world, strengthen a coalition of moderate Arab states or shift
the strategic balance in the Middle East.

This language is directly from the Bush playbook, and Olmert, and the Israeli government more widely, still don't understand that its time has passed (and, psst Ehud, ending settlement construction would improve Israel's relations with
the Arab world, just sayin'). Olmert places the entire onus on the Palestinians, allowing Israel to sit back and wait (and continue building settlements) until the Palestinians are "ready" for their freedom. The Bush administration was more than happy to oblige. Obama's shift, even if it's only rhetorical, is to refocus on Israel's responsibility as the occupying power. The Israelis are either tone deaf to this change, or in total denial that it's happening. Israeli officials just keep parroting the Bush administration understanding as if doing that will make it so. Instead, they just look more and more out of touch. 

Olmert ends with "The time to deal with such important matters is running out. We cannot waste what time we do have on non-priority issues." He doesn't seem to understand that Israeli settlements have become a key matter to the US administration. Lies like like the generous offer will no longer work. The popular perception is shifting, and more and more people understand that it doesn't make sense for Palestinians to accept a "state" that has Israeli colonies and Jewish-only roads slicing through it. They also understand that Israel cannot claim to be engaged in a peace process and be actively undermining it at the same time.

49 Responses

  1. eitanbenshlomo
    July 17, 2009, 7:32 pm

    Olmert can go to Jail for his crimes of Ethnically Cleansing Jews from Gaza. Olmert is the Carter of Israel, left office with approval ratings so low it's laughable. Anything that traitor says is laughed at from right to left.

  2. RichardWitty
    July 17, 2009, 7:38 pm

    And, I think the third interpretation is the accurate one. That is that Olmert is emphasizing the SUCCESS of institution-building that Fatah is undertaking, with positive results. That DIFFERS from the conventional wisdom of the left that "Hamas is pure as the driven snow", and that "Fatah is corrupt and incompetent". If you regard the establishment of reliable legal institutions (police, courts, judiciary) as a bad outcome, then we are in different universes. If you regard the lifting of blockades, the opening of free movement for Palestinians, as a bad outcome, then we are also in different universes. Its important to proceed beyond self-talk. The way to accomplish that is to review what is occurring from MULTIPLE perspectives, really multiple perspectives, not just left-versus right. But, up, left, down, detail, forest. NOT leftist self-talk.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    July 17, 2009, 7:53 pm

    RE: "This language is directly from the Bush playbook." MY COMMENT: You mean the Elliott Abrams playbook, don't you?

  4. DICKERSON3870
    July 17, 2009, 7:54 pm

    If he goes to jail, it will be because he is a crook.

  5. eitanbenshlomo
    July 17, 2009, 7:58 pm


  6. DICKERSON3870
    July 17, 2009, 7:59 pm

    RE: …allowing Israel to sit back and wait (and continue building settlements) until the Palestinians are "ready" for their freedom. The Bush administration was more than happy to oblige. MY COMMENT: Especially 'Pricky' Dick Cheney and Elliott Abrams (the real "deciders").

  7. Diane
    July 17, 2009, 8:11 pm

    Yes, Olmert is attempting to deflect attention from his own failure by re-doing the Generous Offer. He laid the groundwork for it via Aluf Benn in Ha'Aretz earlier this week with an odd story about how he offered them everything but they refused etc etc. The odd thing about the story is that even according to Olmert's version of events, he made his Generous Offer AFTER he'd already resigned as PM, when he wasn't in a position to offer anything to anybody. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1100313.html

  8. syvanen
    July 17, 2009, 8:47 pm

    conventional wisdom of the left that "Hamas is pure as the driven snow" Perhaps you could point out where the 'left' has made any such claim. Since this is a response to Max perhaps you could show us where he has praised Hamas. Your arguments are so phony.

  9. jaime1007
    July 17, 2009, 9:11 pm

    Americans will learn by repetition that a lie is a fact as paint by the liar.

  10. Izzie Cohen
    July 17, 2009, 9:17 pm

    Agreed. His biggest crimes are related to his continued theft of Palestinian land via ever more settlements; his misdemeanors are related to his corruption in office and various personal crimes against fellow Jews.

  11. nanuk
    July 17, 2009, 9:18 pm

    so your comparison with carter collapses then

  12. eitanbenshlomo
    July 17, 2009, 9:20 pm

    Leftist hate him and Rightists too!

  13. Citizen
    July 17, 2009, 9:25 pm

    So you agree with him that the settlement issue is a non-priority issue? I disagree; that issue is over-riding and easily encompasses the economic extensions of it, which are part of implementation. You failed utterly to get the most basic point Adam made so succinctly. Quit masturbating. Get a real woman.

  14. Citizen
    July 17, 2009, 9:27 pm

    Same thing. Abrams read the fairy tale to sleepy dumb goy Shrub and neither ever woke up.

  15. Citizen
    July 17, 2009, 9:30 pm

    LOL. Totally. Cheney is the most ingrown goy hairball you will ever see. Maybe somebody took his Red Ryder BB gun away when he was a kid because he was shooting at stray cats?

  16. Citizen
    July 17, 2009, 9:33 pm

    Omert's stuff subject here is so transparently self-serving, it's hard to believe. He's like the ignorant and stupid guy before Judge Judy who is totally oblivious–She rolls her eyes. That's what I did reading Omert's latest tune.

  17. Citizen
    July 17, 2009, 9:34 pm

    Root lesson: Bernays Top pupil: Goebbels

  18. Thom
    July 17, 2009, 10:27 pm

    The settlement growth during Olmert's tenure is irrelevant to the question of whether he made them an offer. Until a peace agreement is reached, the Palestinians and the Israelis are at war. The sincerity of a peace offer is not called into question by your continuing to act as though you are at war while you wait for the enemy's answer. Or do you think that a country should act as though a peace offer has been accepted, simply because the offer has been made?

  19. RichardWitty
    July 17, 2009, 10:34 pm

    No, I think that the settlement issue is CRITICAL. It is the tipping issue that indicates to the world (all of it) whether Israel intends to gradually expand and annex or intends to co-exist.

  20. Peaceful_Idiot
    July 17, 2009, 11:06 pm

    So what's up with this? ” target=”_blank”>http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middl… Trading settlement expansion for an Iran Strike? Wtf? The Israelis sure are clever.

  21. FPM
    July 17, 2009, 11:19 pm

    Spot on comment by Izzie Cohen. Let's keep things in perspective here eitan!! FPM

  22. Colin_Murray
    July 17, 2009, 11:24 pm

    The Israelis sure are clever. Not so much. I think it is pretty toothless posturing. If they are stupid enough to attack Iran without legitimate provocation, those ships will be going home via the Cape of Good Hope, regardless of what 'President' Mubarak is saying now. He may be a dictator with competent political police, but he will find it very much in his best interest to pander to majority opinion when popular feeling is running high against an unprovoked attack. Note by 'unprovoked' I mean in the perception of the public, both in Egypt and elsewhere, not what their governments say. Also, with respect to such a 'trade', no one is stupid enough to buy that kind of crap anymore. If anything, their continued intransigence and insistence on mouthing the same tired nonsense is merely annoying those sympathetic to Israel who want to see a new approach to ensuring its security.

  23. linedropper
    July 17, 2009, 11:27 pm

    Nothing else but this type of jewnazi hasbara can be expected from those greedy genocidal mental castrato jewnazi psychopaths…

  24. LeaNder22
    July 17, 2009, 11:43 pm

    Richard's mythical left and Israel's Risk of Peace as matter of negociation at Camp David from the perspective of Obama's chief strategist for Pakistan/Afghanistan. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.bitterlemons.org/previous/bl150702ed26… The most important part of Olmert's article are the last two paragraphs. The more things change the more they stay the same. I absolutely agree with Adam, onward "happy" soldiers.

  25. Peaceful_Idiot
    July 17, 2009, 11:44 pm

    There is nice little morsel at the end of the piece:

    The exercises come at a time when Western diplomats are offering support for an Israeli strike on Iran in return for Israeli concessions on the formation of a Palestinian state. If agreed it would make an Israeli strike on Iran realistic “within the year” said one British official. Diplomats said that Israel had offered concessions on settlement policy, Palestinian land claims and issues with neighboring Arab states, to facilitate a possible strike on Iran. “Israel has chosen to place the Iranian threat over its settlements,” said a senior European diplomat.

    tastes shitty.

  26. pineywoodslim
    July 18, 2009, 12:22 am

    Yes, that deal is certainly the elephant in the room, though I'm less sure–particularly since the article quotes unnamed diplomats–how realistically it is being considered by western diplomats, and may well be a bit of planted disinformation. As I recall, Obama has rejected the Israeli tradeoff of "war in exchange for peace". Even if such a deal were being considered, does anyone actually believe Israel would live up to its part of the bargain?

  27. pineywoodslim
    July 18, 2009, 12:25 am

    Tastes shitty, but smells like Israeli propaganda. Though of course, the aroma and taste are quite similar.

  28. American
    July 18, 2009, 2:27 am

    That is from Times (London)..Pay no attention. They have been running those hasabra like propaganda articles forever. "Unnamed" Israeli sources…"unnamed officials and diplomats in the West"…it's all crap…just monkeys rattling cages.

  29. American
    July 18, 2009, 2:41 am

    Does it matter what Olmert or any other Israeli leader says? Not really. It's grist for the whacko Israeli right wing and minons in the US, that's all. Everyone who is anyone knows what the Israelis are up to…..even their Israeli lobby movers and shakers in the US know the excuses are so much bullshit,.more lipstick on the pig, to hold onto the 'greater israel' plan. Nothing going to change all the yada,yada,blah,blah……it will be the same old spin all around until Obma actually does something. Let's see if he does.

  30. Shingo
    July 18, 2009, 4:01 am

    a) It was he war criminal, Sharon, that removed the illegal settlemetns from Gaza b) It's not enthic cleasing when your own ethnicity relocates you

  31. annie
    July 18, 2009, 4:23 am

    sheesh what a tool you sound like. israel lets up sopme checkpoints and throws the pals a bone or two using their preferred toolmates and you get all gooet about success. newsflash, that 'success' is only coming about because israel is under pressure and wants to scored some brownie points via people like you who can blather about how 'well' fatah is 'undertaking' the tasks and accomplishments designed by ..israel. furthermore there is no ' conventional wisdom' from the left about hamas and everybody and their brother knows fatah are corrupt and incompetent (unless israel decides to throw them a bone or two which it can take away whenever the hell it wants) If you regard the facilitation by the occupying power of institutions (police, courts, judiciary) as any version of 'freedom' or 'independence' or anything other than a staving off process designed to coddle wimps like yourself, you are an idiot. as for the lifting of blockades, the opening of free movement for Palestinians..this could have been donwe a long long time ago. it is happening now because the world is watching and israel is getting pressured. it is not happening because of fatah standing up and demanding anything. Its important to proceed beyond self-talk my ass. that is all you are doing. contribute something or STFU, you're a bore.

  32. annie
    July 18, 2009, 4:35 am

    you ask what is up w/that? timesonline is well known for being a place the neocons 'drop' lies in the foreign press. believe it or not it is actually against the law to report total fabrication as truth in the american press so often times lies like these come out overseas first, and then they are repeated here(legally). watch out for timesonline (seriously a favorite for the neocons) and especially wrt anonymous sources and israel, the two spell trouble and lies. there is probably a grain of truth, and an elaborate amount of spin. plus, this is not news, it is wishful thinking. this was the same propaganda being spewed by israel prior to nety's visit w/obama, he slapped it down bigtime.

  33. annie
    July 18, 2009, 4:38 am

    this morning i was reading this olmert op ed. the comments @ wapo were very very telling. just page after page of support for the palestininas and hardly any for israel. where are all the trollanistas for israel? the times they are a changing.

  34. v....
    July 18, 2009, 5:56 am

    Just as an aside (because I consider talk about a peace process nonsense, they should call it the "piece process" – every time it is engaged in more land is stolen from the Palestinians. Anyone who thinks they can engage in a conversation about the virtues of the peace process is either a liar or an imbecile), I always like this dumb line – "The insistence now on a complete freeze on settlement construction — impossible to completely enforce…" This said by one of the top five armed forces in the world that calls itself the "only democracy in the Middle East"…lol One of the most powerful forces can't stop their own murderous colonists, but the Palestinians who have been beaten down for years, official bodies divested of power and some leaders illegally imprisoned, under siege and starved plus bombed to hell at this point – can "stop the rockets." If that one line there does not strike you nothing will, about the utter nonsense of this whole "peace process (better called "piece process")." My second favorite statement is that the Palestinians have to "give up more," they have not suffered enough after 60 plus years, yeah right. However, that is another part of a long lying story.

  35. lovelyisraelis
    July 18, 2009, 11:00 am

    The posts here (apart from the pro-israel slobs, which are never worth even reading) we see a radical juxtaposition. On the one hand are those who feel the moment of truth is at hand, that israel is essentially on its last legs as a regional power, that the world is now so disgusted by Israel's virulent racism and criminality that a change is inevitable, that Palestinian autonomy is close at hand……while the rest seem to feel the matter has reached the level of utter hopelessness, that the destruction of Palestinian culture, economy, spirit, hope for the future is essentially complete, that the Israeli dream of a supine, totally demolished Palestine is now a reality and that the long-suffering Palestinians have no cause to expect anything but more suffering, dispossession and chronic despair, as the United States continues to provide all the necessary means for Israel's continued abominations. Where do we stand?

  36. lovelyisraelis
    July 18, 2009, 11:16 am

    As to Olmert, I think the pro-Palestinian movement should take its cue from an earlier statement of his. What he said essentially was 'we ought to give the Palestinians their damn state and do it quickly. Because if we don't, conditions on the ground will very soon make such a state impossible. When that happens, the Palestinians and their supporters will take up the cause of equal rights with the same fervor as the South Africans. They will demand voting rights. The American people will be VERY responsive to such arguments and we will lose our vital Jewish backing in the US. When that happens, Israel is finished.' Well–if you're like me, the words "Israel is finished" fall on the ears with the somber loveliness of a Bach aria. I think on this point, if on no other, Olmert was right. The Palestinian struggle should be for equal rights…drawing on the tactics of America's civil rights movement. One land. Equal rights.

  37. lovelyisraelis
    July 18, 2009, 11:25 am

    eiten Your country is a sewer. Your president is a convicted rapist.

  38. Shingo
    July 18, 2009, 12:53 pm

    "That is that Olmert is emphasizing the SUCCESS of institution-building that Fatah is undertaking, with positive results." Not only is this at odds with Neteyahus demand that a Palestinian state shoudl have no army, but the only poistive results are that Israel has achived it's aims of preventing a unity government between Hamas and Fatah. The first time unistalks were about to take place, Washington and Tel Aviv ordered Abba and his thug, Dallan, to stage a coup to overthrow Hamas (with their support of course). The second time, they launched a sirge eon Gaza prior to talks, and Fatah's suport for the sirge was a nail in the coffin of unity government talks.

  39. P Smith
    July 18, 2009, 4:45 pm

    The jewish squatters living illegally on Palestinian land in so-called "settlements" should be forcibly removed at gunpoint, arrested if necessary, and the houses they live in be confiscated. The confiscated houses should then be given to all the Palestinians who were victims of the Israeli war crime of _collective punishment_: Israel destroyed the homes of the relatives of bombers. Punishing people who were only related to those wo attacked Israel, especially when tehy were not participants in the bombings, is a war crime under the Nuremburg Charter. The jews have become the Nazis, using tactics against Palestinians that jews were once victims of.

  40. Patrick Cummins
    July 18, 2009, 8:14 pm

    "If you regard the establishment of reliable legal institutions (police, courts, judiciary) as a bad outcome, then we are in different universes." I wonder then what universe Olmert is inhabiting? Recall that his campaign in Gaza specifically targeted the police. One of the first air strikes was against a class of young police cadets during their graduation ceremony. According to the NYT 15 people were killed in the attack. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/world/middleeas…

  41. Onlooker
    July 18, 2009, 9:00 pm

    I agree with you. Witty would say you are a "solidarity dissenter" who is not moving forward with a balanced approach.

  42. Citizen
    July 18, 2009, 9:04 pm

    Yeah, that's a good question in light of your observation. Speaking only for myself, I say that if Obama does not take a stand and continually make that stand public, beginning with what he said in Cairo about freezing the settlements and working from there, then it's all over for the Palestinians, and a WW3 is assured. Only the timing of same is open to debate.

  43. Citizen
    July 18, 2009, 9:11 pm

    Gotta agree, if average Americans ever actually get the truth about the I-P affair, and their own taxpayer dollars loaded on one side of it, they will come down hard on Israel. How long can the PC MSM keep up their blackout of reality on this issue? And congress? Seems they can do so forever as it's been so far–Americans don't know why anyone would draw parallels with Nazi Germany regarding Israel, but they have a vague feel for the Jim Crow analogy. All they need in the latter case is some real objective news reporting , and in the former case, a smart and courageous MSM pundit. Do you, lovelyisraselis, see either on the horizon?

  44. lovelyisraeis
    July 18, 2009, 9:54 pm

    citizen well…that's tough to answer. I think the best we can do is to try to design a strategy we think has the best chance of success, even if the chance seems slight. For Chomsky, Finkelstein and others I enormously admire, the answer is to stick unshakably to the two-state resolution of the conflict based on the june 67 borders. I have however, encountered very powerful arguments that eventually persuaded me that pursuit of two state at this stage is probably doing more harm than good and seems more and more impossible to fulfill, even on paper, much less, in practice. Beyond the other advantages of one state, I think the power of the message becomes enormously more potent. Americans haven't got the time to wade through the history of the conflict. Balfour? Partition? The Ottoman empire? Green line? Count Bernadotte? Irgun? Mandate? huh? Who? But if the entire movement can say to the American people (and to the world) "here is an Arab family. The people in the house across the street are Jews. Will you deny the Arab family the same rights? Are they not human beings in your eyes?" I think that has a power and immediacy that would greatly help the movement. It makes Witty-esque obfuscation of the real issues, much harder. And it better resonates with this country's history More American black leaders (including you know who) making a clear connection with the plight of the Palestinians, as well as many more Jews on the front lines will help. Maybe there is some tipping point. I don't know. …my two cents.

  45. Sin Nombre
    July 19, 2009, 12:28 am

    Adam Horowitz wrote: "Olmert ends with 'The time to deal with such important matters is running out. We cannot waste what time we do have on non-priority issues.' He doesn't seem to understand that Israeli settlements have become a key matter to the US administration." Well Olmert and this editorial of his seem to me to present an even deeper mystery. When he came out and openly mentioned the danger (to him) of a one-state solution it seemed to me that at least here was a guy who could look down the road a bit, and it scared him. But now what's he doing? Saying the settlements aren't important when not only the U.S. thinks they are—as Adam notes—but when the PA says it won't negotiate at *all* while they continue growing. So who does he think he's going to make peace with to avoid that one-state solution? Seems to me because the U.S. has been so intimately involved with Israel for so long and that relationship is so important to Israel and has been relied on in so many ways Israel's politicians (who have been especially close to and involved with same) have developed a kind of extreme U.S.-centric viewpoint, and blindspot. I mean … here's Olmert directing his energies not at the PA trying to persuade them that the settlements that are expanding aren't important for this or that reason (because Israel will compensate the PA for them by trading other lands or whatever), but instead trying to persuade the U.S. of same. Really doesn't make any sense otherwise. Unless they think that somehow the U.S. has a magic wand that it will wave when *it* is convinced some Israeli offer is fair that will then magically make the Palestinians jump for joy too. I don't understand it otherwise, and thus suspect that if it isn't a U.S.-centric blindspot it probably has something to do with the intricacies of Israeli politics and Olmert's position and motives. Maybe someone close to the Israeli political scene can explain.

  46. eitanbenshlomo
    July 19, 2009, 1:14 am

    The user lovelyisraelis has proven an anti-semite time and again. First Jews as animals, now Jews are dehumanized as a county, a "sewer". You all act like you have respect for the Jewish people and many people on this forum are Jews. Why do you not purge this user "lovelyisraelis" from your ranks and make this an honest debate? Also the president of Israel is Shimon Peres

  47. P Smith
    July 19, 2009, 2:00 am

    My comment was removed/censored despite containing nothing more strenuous than saying Israelis living illegally on Palestinian land are squatters, that they should be deported to Israel and their "homes" be given to Palestinians whose homes were destroyed. How charming.

  48. Margaret
    July 19, 2009, 4:25 am

    "The deployment into the Red Sea, confirmed by Israeli officials, was a clear signal that Israel was able to put its strike force within range of Iran at short notice. It came before long-range exercises by the Israeli air force in America later this month and the test of a missile defence shield at a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean." What is that about?

  49. Margaret
    July 19, 2009, 4:31 am

    To be more precise: what is this about. "It came before long-range exercises by the Israeli air force in America later this month and the test of a missile defence shield at a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean." Why is the Israeli air force doing long range exercises in the US? Why are they testing the Pacific missile defense shield?

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