Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to appear with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations today in defiance of the Netanyahu government. Olmert has said in recent days that Netanyahu is not acting in good faith, and Abbas is the sole partner for peace. He wrote in the Israeli daily Maariv:
‘There is no denying that over the past ten years, Israel has been the recalcitrant, provocative, aggressive party – and its lack of flexibility is the main reason why peace initiatives have not only failed to mature into near-agreements, but were not even introduced.’
Netanyahu’s ambassador to the U.N. calls Olmert’s meeting “terrorism” and a threat to the “Jewish State.”
Ehud Olmert’s meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in NY only advances the PA’s diplomatic terrorism. On the same day, Abbas promotes a UN resolution against the US & Israel, encourages the int’l community to isolate the Jewish State & continues to incite. We must unite to defend Israel!
One of Olmert’s goals is to keep the two-state solution on life support, by building international pressure against Israeli annexation of territories in the West Bank.
Olmert warns that world powers are going to turn on Israel, and when the Democratic Party gets back in the White House, Democrats in Congress will lead the way. He told Tal Kra-Oz of Fathom Journal:
If Israel does not change course, Olmert said, then the recent announcement from the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court that there was a basis to investigate Israeli war crimes is only the beginning. Israelis would need to procure visas before visiting European countries. BDS efforts would double down. ‘It will be an earthquake,’ he said….
‘[W]e’re living on borrowed time. The moment Trump is gone, things will be one-hundred times worse than they would have been under normal circumstances. The Democrats will demand payback for the way we’ve spit in their faces over the past decade.’…
‘when the Democrats return to power, they won’t forget the way we’ve treated them. Then you will see that some of the initiatives we are afraid will come from Europe, will come first from the American Congress.’
Olmert is not alone in predicting that Democrats will turn on Israel. Ilan Goldenberg, a former Obama aide writing for a Zionist organization, the Israel Policy Forum, says that if Israel moves ahead with annexation and Democrats recapture the White House, Democrats will have to apply real pressure at last.
[T]he severity and urgency of the moment will call for bold actions that in many cases involve genuine pressure on Israel or at least steps that the Israeli government will vehemently oppose.
Goldenberg sees the White House conditioning “some very limited elements of Israel security assistance” — the nearly $4 billion a year we give that government. But that won’t be “enough to change Israeli behavior.” He also expects that a Democratic White House will cease to support Israel at the U.N., prompting “years of US-Israel disagreements to come.”
But here is the most radical shift of all, says Goldenberg. Democrats will have to start walking their talk and come out for a single democratic state between the river and the sea. Something Americans support, even if the party establishment doesn’t.
Perhaps the best option for U.S. policymakers who oppose annexation is to publicly state that while they continue to support a viable two-state solution, if that is no longer possible, they support democracy and Palestinian rights. In other words, support for a binational democratic state of Israel with equal rights for all of the people who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean sea or some alternative configuration that ensured Palestinian rights. Such a statement would be in line with American and Jewish values and a position that would not be hard for most American politicians to justify. It is also one that has the support of 64% of Americans.
Goldenberg (of the Democratic hawkish thinktank Center for a New American Security) says this shift would be at once idealistic and tactical/liberal-Zionist: pressuring Israel to give up apartheid so as to maintain a Jewish state.
[A]n Israeli move to a two-state solution may only be possible once Palestinians begin calling for one binational state. This could be the real threat to the Jewish nature of Israel that finally forces the Israeli public out of its apathetic resignation. If a significant consensus starts to build in the American left, the American Jewish community, and in Congress that if forced to choose between an apartheid-like Jewish state and binational Israeli democracy many of Israel’s supporters will choose democracy – this might be enough to spur Israelis to take action to preserve the viability of two-states so that they can be both democratic and Jewish. And if this does not move Israelis, it still puts supporters of Israel who oppose annexation on the right side of the argument.
It’s not a surprise that the American press has largely ignored the Olmert story. The New York Times has not covered Olmert’s criticisms of Netanyahu. As Yakov Hirsch pointed out to me, “You have a former Likud PM of Israel saying Abbas is a man of peace and compromise, while it is Netanyahu who is full of it. Shouldn’t that be front-page news?”