The Peace Abbas Rejected

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has revealed the peace plan that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September of last year. “Abbas did not respond, and negotiations ended,” according to Haaretz.

The peace plan encompassed an exchange of land, with Israel gaining Jerusalem and a little over 6 percent of the West Bank — parts that are home to 75 percent of the settlement population living in the occupied territory. Dozens of other settlements in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern Samarian hills and in the Hebron region were to have been dismantled.

The Palestinians were to have been compensated for the loss of territory with strips of land north and south of the West Bank and additional ground east of the Gaza Strip. To provide safe passage between the two parts of Palestine, Olmert offered to secure a highway that would remain Israeli territory but lack any Israeli presence.

Haaretz notes that in a formal reply, the former prime minister’s office claimed that their map contains a “number of inaccuracies that are not consistent with the map that was ultimately presented” but based as it is on different official sources, it ought to provide a rough idea of what was offered to the Palestinians nonetheless.

Although the Olmert Plan was less generous than what Ehud Barak offered as prime minister at the 2000 Camp David Summit, it is still difficult to understand why Abbas refused to consider it. He could have provided his people with a sovereign state and end the conflict once and for all but apparently, it wasn’t enough.

Now, due to some clumsy diplomacy on the part of the Obama Administration, Abbas is refusing to so much as sit down with the Israelis in spite of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer to largely freeze the construction of settlements in the West Bank. One wonders what more the Palestinians are honestly expecting to get.


  1. Perhaps they simply want what the Road Map required Israel to do six years ago?

    All of Israel’s colonies, including in East Jerusalem are illegal. See UNSCR 465.

    The Palestinians have every right to see all of the illegal activity to stop before they negotiate. As has often been pointed out, how are they supposed to negotiate the division of a pizza while Israel is gobbling it up?

  2. In this case, I’m not sure how productive it is to speak of “legality” if only because part of the other side resorts to terrorism… The Palestinians can’t honestly expect Israel to give up all its settlement and East Jerusalem. Regardless of whether that would be “fair”, it’s simply not going to happen.

    Repeatedly the Palestinians have been offered a deal that gave them pretty much the 1967 borders yet repeatedly they declined. As I wondered in the article: what more are they expecting to get?

  3. Nick Ottens,

    So I take it that you have no clue as to who Palestinians are and you only identify with the legal and human rights of the Israelis?

    And it’s interesting to note how you believe that all the violence is one sided.

    Perhaps you didn’t notice that the Palestinians have nothing. And the Israelis have the third or fourth most powerful military on the planet?

    I’ll tell you what the Palestinians want Nick. They want their lawful rights as laid out in countless UN resolutions, the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Treaty of 1908 etc.

    The Palestinians are entitled to not be terrorized or molested or kept under siege.

    I know these things because I have asked and been answered many times over decades of research and reporting on the issue.

    I heartily suggest that you read B’TSelem’s “20th Anniversary” report that shows in stark detail how backwards you have the violence.

    I suggest you review the data from Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR Israel).

    And most of all, read the Goldstone Report in its entirety, the first time I read it, the day it came out, it took nine hours. My head was spinning from the things Israel did to Gaza, and I had already read the half dozen reports already published by Amnesty, HWR etc and watched the War on Gaza unfold live on Al Jazeera TV even as the Israelis tried to shoot the journalists.

    Then email me and I will put you in touch with a reporter or two on the ground so you can get their perspective.

    If you are willing to do this, you will no longer be asking what the Palestinians want.

    You will be asking when is the world going to stop the rogue out of control state that is stealing their land and resources on a daily basis and right now, even as I write this.

    War crimes and crimes against humanity are crimes whether or not it is Israel that commits them, and all war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity can and should be brought to justice.

  4. Who’s saying the violence is one-sided now, eh?

    I’m not. Both Israel and Palestinians have committed atrocities. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so pointless to debate over and over again who’s to blame, or who’s to blame more. That way, there’ll never be peace. Both parties need to be realistic. For the Palestinians, that means accepting that Israel will only give them so much; that they’ll never get historic Palestine “back” (even though it was never really “theirs” in recent history) and will have to make do with Gaza and the West Bank.

    Repeatedly, that’s exactly what they’ve been offered and repeatedly, they rejected such peace proposals. As I see it, Israel has done a lot more to try and bring peace to the Middle East than the Palestinian authorities have.

    You bring up one interesting thing: who exactly are the Palestinians? Or, put another way: what is the Palestinian “nation”?

  5. Nick,

    You have a couple of serious shortcomings in your extreme stance.

    First of all, you seem to think that Israel is “giving” something to the Palestinians. Apparently you are not well informed enough on the issue to understand that Israel cannot “give” something, land and resources, that it does not hold sovereignty over.

    For that you would have to delve into the importance of the bedrock international principle ‘territory acquired by war is inadmissible’ and learn and understand why this principle is of equal importance to both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

    And secondly, you use a well-known trick that makes me suspect that you are not at all an impartial observer of facts, when you ask “who are the Palestinians?”

    The question itself implies that you somehow doubt that such a people exist, and if you can manage that contortion, then it becomes that much easier to deny them their inalienable rights to self-determination as a people.

    You might as well have asked “who are black folks?” (in the USA).

    Perhaps try understanding the Nakba narrative, you know, the Palestinian side of things when they had an unwanted state plopped down in their midst; a very violent state that even pre-state honed it’s skills on driving the British out, not the least of which using letter bombs and the cowardly bombing of the King David Hotel where 92 innocent people were killed.

    The Stern Gang, the Irgun, that Haganah, the forerunner of the IDF, all proudly burned Arab villages and drove out the people, more than 700,000 of them. Even Benny Morris the historian does not shy away from these truths. Read some Tom Segev, Ian Pappe, it would not hurt to keep up with Gideon Levy and Amira Haas at Haaretz for a wider view of what is really going on.

  6. You think my stance is extreme? You should listen to some Israelis.

    Sure, in a legal, theoretical way you’re right on the matter of the occupied territories, but this is precisely the sort of impractical battering I was writing about earlier. I prefer to approach problems like these from a more pragmatic position. Israel won’t give up all its settlements, and it won’t withdraw to the 1948 borders of the Partition Plan. Which the Arabs rejected in the first place anyway.

    I asked “who are the Palestinians” because I am of the opinion that there was no such thing as a “Palestinian people”, let alone a “Palestinian nation”, before Israel was created.

    People who argue from the “Palestinian side of things” typically seem to think that Israel was somehow planted in the middle of an existing Palestinian State. There never was a Palestinian state. There wasn’t even a Palestinian people before the second half of the twentieth century.

  7. Nick,

    Well there you have it. There’s really nothing else to discuss.

    It is pointless to debate someone who believes that millions of Palestinians do not exist.

    And it is also pointless to debate with someone who has zero respect for international law or human rights.

    You are nowhere near arguing a position that allows for peace, because you don’t even believe the other half of the equation, the Palestinian people, exists, and since you have convinced yourself of this falsehood, there’s no need for you to apply human rights standards or customary international law or UN resolutions to a people that you believe do not exist.

    In short, you have absolutely nothing to offer.

  8. You are twisting my arguments and exaggerating my position. I’m not claiming that the Palestinian people don’t exist, as human beings. All I’m saying is that the notion of the “Palestinian nation” exists only because of Israel; the only thing that the Arab people we call “the Palestinians” have in common is their shared plight and their shared struggle against Israel. I’m not sure if that’s enough to make a “nation” but it doesn’t really matter as far as I’m concerned for the sake of the peace process.

    As I see it, there’s two solutions:

    1) The Palestinian territories become a sovereign state;

    2) Israel annexes all of the Palestinian territories.

    The first is preferable for many reasons.

    For a people that have never had a nation, let alone a state, that seems rather like a lot to offer.

  9. When and under what form was there a Palestinian state outside the lines drawn up by western powers seeking to add shape to their claim of a certain area of Arabi?

    “The Palestinians have every right to see all of the illegal activity to stop before they negotiate.”
    – So do the Israelis. The illegal activity being the attacks on civilian non-coms. If we’re going to talk about this in the frame-work of the ‘rule of law’, be prepared to accept that many actions from ‘the other side’ have not been within the realms of ‘UN law’. Or is that okay because they’re ‘freedom fighters’?

    “I know these things because I have asked and been answered many times over decades of research and reporting on the issue.”
    Then best of luck to you but what Nick is suggesting is an approach of pragmatism not one based on judgments skewed by emotional involvement. Israel is a mighty powerful entity and if you think anyone’s going to dictate it should relinquish certain territory, you should stick to domestic legal activity as your field. The Palestinians may have some kind of moral high-ground but what does that matter in real terms when their opponent is ‘third or fourth most powerful military on the planet?” You say war acquired by conquest is invalid? That’s most of the states on the face of this sweet earth, fella.
    Nick never questioned that the human beings existed, far from it, he merely questions the integrity of the state of Palestine before the presence of Israel and the extent of nationalism in the region. Whether these people are Palestinian As we all known, nationalism in the region is a recent phenomena and questionable in the level it impacted on all people. The UN regards Nation-states in a certain way and Nick merely questioned if this applied to the Palestinian people/nation/state. Do not confuse the two. Either answer properly or don’t answer.
    By rubbishing Ottens’ arguments in the way you have above, you’ve presented a poor case at best. Foxtrot Oscar, unless you have some actual arguments rather than hyperbolising the man’s arguments to suit your tirade.
    Lastly, for my own part, you’re dictating from a stern belief that the rule of law applies to international relations which is a whole other debate. Legitimacy and Legality are rarely the same thing in this field and perhaps that should be noted in your thus far emotional outburst. Get a set and enter debate with a level head. Plus, Stop being patronising or you’ll continue undermine your own deuced argument.
    “War crimes and crimes against humanity are crimes whether or not it is Israel that commits them, and all war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity can and should be brought to justice.”
    What above-state legal authority had you in mind for the arbiter?
    In this case it just might be a case of the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must. History is full of it.

  10. James,

    You could have shortened your comment immensely by simply declaring that there is no rule of law and since Israel has the might, might makes right.

    Fair enough. But that puts you and Nick squarely at odds with successive US Presidents, Britain, the wider EU and of course the Arab world.

    And just a quick note, you might think my approach is too direct but it stems from people lecturing about things that they don’t understand.

    Case in point, the bedrock principle ‘territory acquired by war is inadmissible’ has been around for a period of time. There were several major historical events that led to its ultimate adoption.

    You write: “You say war acquired by conquest is invalid? That’s most of the states on the face of this sweet earth, fella.”

    Until when? Again you have only demonstrated a limited knowledge about the application of this principle, when it came into being, and had you known anymore about it than Nick you would have found modern instances where it has been applied.

    There most definitely is a process with which to bring human rights violators to justice, and I’d imagine when it catches up with Omar el-Bashir, you and probably Nick will be pleased.

    I know I will. But I would equally be pleased to see the same rule of law catch up with Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak for their role in the lead-up and execution of the War on Gaza; anyone who read the entire Goldstone Report would be hard put to come to any other conclusion.

    Sadly a different standard applies to a people that many even deny exist as Nick has done.

    Israel was created as a state in 1948. Israelis are no different than the Palestinians in this respect; they both became peoples. It’s just that one people made the other stateless and essentially homeless for the last sixty-plus years. Indeed, Palestinians were just that long before there even was an Israeli.

    If Israel lived up to it’s obligations and the commitments it has made and broken from Oslo to the Road Map, there would already be peace.

    It simply won’t happen until there is a US President with enough cajones, such as Bush senior nearly did, to directly tie any further military aid to res 242.

    President Obama nearly has his health care plan through, and regardless of whether that is good or bad or something in-between, one of his main “signature” issues will be behind him within his first year.

    Obama is a young man. It is not out of the question that he will, or already has, told Bibi that he will make peace and that Mr. Obama is perfectly prepared to risk reelection to see it done.

    Now *that* would cause an immediate change in attitude, even from Bibi.

    Providing a durable peace is wrested from the Israelis, Mr. Obama could certainly run again in the future if their was a short-term political fallout such as befell George H. W. Bush Sr..

    Because at this point, many people see strict moves such as he made the *only* way that Israel will ever be induced to forge a realistic and durable peace in the region.

  11. Yes, I could’ve shortened my comment, but I didn’t want to. It may put me at odds with some Western governments and the Arab world, but I forgive them. This one’s not short either.
    I don’t think Nick here intended to lecture. He merely wrote an article and then set out to defend and expand on his argument. This specific subject is far from my field of knowledge, admittedly, but there’re some enduring general principles to be considered and I re-propose that you got the wrong end of the stick about the existence of the nation of Palestine as opposed to the people themselves.

    I accept the principle ‘territory acquired by war is inadmissible’ has been around for some time but states still exist born of conflict in years just since the Second World War; Conquest being the subduing of one set of political entity or entities by another, which in this modern world can be interpreted to be both sub-state actors and state actors, can be applied to anywhere there’s been decisive conflict since 1945 which you must warrant is a fair amount. Inter-state ‘conquering’ is as rare as proper inter-state war in the ‘modern’ period due to the taboo on inter-state war as much as anything else That doesn’t stop attempts and some successes. Israel’s a fine example, as you know, having conquered territory in its numerous disputes. As you said ‘might makes right’ still, but differently. If it were a weak state without US support, international law as pressed by a consensus of a willing international community would probably be swifter and more potent in delivery, as you seem to want.

    I won’t actually care what happens to El Bashir, for your example, but sure the ‘rule of law’ can be applied to certain abusers of human rights. However, such a move against Israeli top politicos would be understandably embarrassing for Israel and I doubt the state would let that happen, it’d be tantamount to admitting that they were/are wrong in a long –kept set of policies regarding their stance with Palestine/the Palestinians. That’d torpedo peace talks rather squarely. Israel would not go to further talks if it felt betrayed by the international community and believed them to be taking sides. What is more, the most powerful member of that community is Israel’s biggest ally. In the past, this rule of law has been applied by political actions, sometimes violent. Defeating an enemy, having a former leader turned over by their now triumphant political rivals, agencies hunting them down. It’s not a matter of what’s right or wrong but how could one apply the rules in the specific case of Israel. They’d struggle without upsetting what little already exists. We’re back to the area between Nick’s pragmatism and your sense of justice.

    Nationhood requires a desire to become so. Nationalism. Palestine was bandied about, split up, amalgamated, between Empires for a considerable part of its history and I think this is what Nick is alluding to when he speaks of this. They’ve never had a nation let alone a state?

  12. James,

    Now that is a breath of fresh air indeed.

    Your last comment is a model of original thinking and rationally considering my thoughts.

    I certainly agree that the principle of ‘territory acquired by war is inadmissible’ principle has been violated by other state and non-state actors since 1945 is undoubtedly true.

    I know that principle was emphasized in res 242, and that is why successive US administrations, the United Nations, and the world community has viewed any transfer of Israeli citizens into occupied territory as illegal.

    President Obama made that quite clear and the position has not changed, this administration, as the last one did, views Israeli colonies as illegitimate.

    All of them. They are well covered in long established UN resolutions and international law.

    Logically then, movement towards peace should move along those lines, end the occupation, and indeed it has, many many times.

    Except it has been one way for the Palestinians and one way for the Israelis, and yes, since Israel is a client state of the US, we do bear a certain amount of responsibility for what Israel is up to.

    Palestinians bear the brunt of the criticism, even as if they accept the ’67 borders and East Jerusalem as their capital, they are accepting 22% of the original mandate.

    Right now, as an interlude, a quick Google search for the United Nations West Bank Fragmentation Map might be in order.

    When I view the map, and then I read folks writing about how the Palestinians should just settle for what they get, well, as a Eastern Band Cherokee in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’m not to thrilled by the idea.

    The point is, we didn’t have the Geneva Conventions back in the day.

    The Palestinians do.

    Have you any thoughts on the reported Ehud Olmert offer including a map, that Abbas supposedly simply refused?

    What I hear in a reverse, sort of perverse, sort of way, is that Abu Mazen could not depend on Olmert as a *peace partner*, because of all the impending indictments and the war he was waging on Gaza to win an election.

  13. Here‘s some interesting insight into the Palestinian position as a conclusion to our little discussion.

  14. Nick,

    What was the point? MEMRI has been so discredited for many years that it would be quite hard to believe anything they “translate” – and to be sure they are certainly NOT non-partisan, given the that the organization was created and is run by former Israel intelligence.

    Having said that, I read through the Erekat interview twice, and if it can be trusted (and that’s doubtful, see all the brackets?) and that is really Erekat, it sounds like his pragmatism after all, I say so what?

    I don’t disagree with his analysis nor what is going to need to happen going forward to ever have a real and durable peace agreement based on UN resolutions, the rule of law, and the Arab Initiative.

    Had you asked, I would have told you the same thing and largely did.

    So what part did you see that you thought was some big smoking gun?

  15. [Some ask] where the negotiations with the Israeli side have brought us. First [the Israelis] said we would [only have the right to] run our own schools and hospitals. Then they consented to give us 66% [of the occupied territories].

    At Camp David they offered 90%, and [recently] they offered 100%. So why should we hurry, after the all the injustice we have suffered?

    Maybe because people are suffering and dying out there?

  16. Nick,

    Is suffering and dying for your rights such an alien concept to you Nick?

    I’m pretty sure if the same thing was happening to your family and community, where you and yours were being run out at gunpoint and don’t dare fight back or you’ll get shot – you would be fighting to get every inch of your land and your rights back yourselves…

    Or maybe you are different than every other human on the planet?

    Have you even read the Likud Platform?

  17. Is suffering and dying for your rights such an alien concept to you Nick?

    No. Letting others suffer and die for your sake, is though.

  18. Nick,

    Gee I’m sorry, you are not making sense. Did you think Saab Erekat is not Palestinian?

    I’m quite sure the PA leadership well remembers what Israel did to Arafat in Ramallah.

    And of course you avoided the the real issue as you so often have since we started this thread.

    There is copious evidence that Israel has done everything in its power to prevent peace.

    And the most glaring proof is available for all the world to see.

    Hundreds of thousands of illegal colonists stealing land and resources from the Palestinians.

    Frankly, the Palestinians have been extremely lenient. If it was Americans under such an occupation, we would have stopped it by now.

    Of course by your logic, you would just let them come in and kill off some of your family and community members and then bulldoze and take over property at will.

    Would you give them candy Nick?

  19. You really don’t get where I’m coming from, do you? You seem to interpret every word I write on this issue as the voice of some Zionist extremist who doesn’t care at all about Palestinian lives. Fact is, I think it’s a crying shame that the Palestinian “leadership” is bickering over percentages of land to demand “back” and blissfully admitting that it’s just sitting around and waiting for Israel to offer yet a better deal, while Palestinians are starving, suffering and dying. If that’s “avoiding the real issue,” I suppose I don’t get what the issue is here.

    That’s my final words in this discussion. Please, I hope you’ll continue to read the site and comment on other articles, but in this instance, I don’t see any point in debating with you any further.

  20. Nick,

    You are correct, you do not understand how biased that you are.

    You did it again in your latest:

    “Fact is, I think it’s a crying shame that the Palestinian ‘leadership’ is bickering over percentages of land to demand ‘back’ and blissfully admitting that it’s just sitting around and waiting for Israel to offer yet a better deal, while Palestinians are starving, suffering and dying. If that’s ‘avoiding the real issue,’ I suppose I don’t get what the issue is here.”

    You claim no bias but you put in quotes “back” – which of course implies that you believe there is nothing to give back…

    As in you seem to believe that the Israelis are “giving” something to the Palestinians when in fact they will simply be returning stolen property and resources and getting monetary compensation for the crimes Israel has committed against them.

    There is not a single American who would expect less if the shoe was on the other foot yet you cannot seem to grasp this basic fact.

    Israel was born of terrorism and ethnic cleansing and war. There can be no reconciliation or going forward towards a fair and just settlement for peace without acknowledging the Nakba and all that is has entailed over the intervening decades, in particular the last four decades of Israel’s brutal land grabbing occupations.

    If someone steals your car, would you be happy if the criminal gets to keep a percentage of it?

    The Palestinians have been begging to create their state on the remaining 22% of the original mandate.

    Israel has already gotten away with 78%.

    That’s more than enough Nick, and if you cannot see that, then you are part of the reason that this injustice continues.

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