Abbas: Olmert was '2 months' from peace

2012-10-15 11:01

Ramallah - In comments that may stir Israel's election campaign, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he and Ehud Olmert were "two months" away from a peace deal before Olmert had to resign as Israeli prime minister.

With Olmert lately cleared of several graft charges and considering a challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 22 January parliamentary election, supporters have highlighted Olmert's efforts to make peace with Abbas in negotiations which later foundered under Netanyahu's right-wing coalition.

Speaking to Israeli politicians in the West Bank, Abbas said: "I worked hard with Olmert. Unfortunately, he suddenly retired. We discussed the borders, the exchange of territories and traded maps. We were close and reached many understandings."

Asked how close the pair were to a deal in 2008, Abbas replied in English: "I'm sure if he continued, two months."

Olmert and other officials involved in those US-sponsored talks have spoken of progress in, for example, pencilling new borders to divide Israel from a new Palestinian state, both Abbas and Olmert would have struggled to convince hardliners on either side to support any peace plan they might have produced.

Olmert was once a member of Netanyahu's Likud party but joined the centrist movement Kadima, which he led in government from 2006. In mid-2008, he announced his resignation over corruption allegations, though he remained caretaker premier until Netanyahu won a parliamentary election in early 2009.

Short of endorsement

Before Olmert left office, Abbas had suspended talks over the war Olmert launched in the Gaza Strip in late 2008, as part of Israel's confrontation with Abbas's Palestinian rivals Hamas.

Aides to Olmert, aged 67, have said he has been considering returning to active politics since he was largely acquitted in July of charges against him and received a suspended jail term that did not raise a legal obstacle for him to run for election.

Abbas stopped short of endorsing Olmert, describing the vote as an "internal Israeli issue".

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with its capital in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu called the election several months early and polls make him strong favourite to retain power.

  • Larry - 2012-10-15 11:56

    They will never have any capital in any part of Jerusalem. Ta ta.

      alistair.parkinson - 2012-10-15 12:19


      tom.poe.12 - 2012-10-15 12:35

      Never say never...... Change is inevitable....its the only thing that remains constant.

      moses.mabhida.52 - 2012-10-15 12:40

      Agree for a different reason however. It is only under Israeli rule that all 3 major religions are allowed to practice freely for the first time in thousands of years. All 3 religions have the rights to call Jerusalem home - but only the original inhabitancy seem to give each one, the freedoms they deserve under the promise of freedom of religion & democracy. Did you know that the only place in the Arab world where Christian numbers are flourishing is in Israel? Now compare it to the number of Christians in Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran and dare I say GAZA…

      tom.poe.12 - 2012-10-15 16:29

      @ moses...... Go back and check your history......Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived in harmony for the last 800 years in palestine until 1948 when the country was divided along ethnic lines by the United Nations. Since that partition and eventual occupation, the region has been polarised along religious lines.

      moses.mabhida.52 - 2012-10-16 07:39

      Harmony Tom? I disagree with you... During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times... In discussing Jerusalem, history matters. In weighing ostensibly competing claims to the city, it must be recalled that the Jewish people bases its claim to Jerusalem on a link which dates back millennia. Indeed, Jerusalem has served as the capital of independent Jewish states several times over the past 3,000 years, including since 1948; it has never served any Arab state -- at anytime in history -- in such a capacity, and a Palestinian claim to Jerusalem was not articulated prior to 1967.

  • razz.tazz.9 - 2012-10-15 12:22

    They all F@$&@N corrupt.

      tom.poe.12 - 2012-10-15 12:36

      Boths sides........the Israeli and Palestinian leadership

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-15 18:05

    Zionism and peace are incompatible!

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-10-15 20:40

      Islamic facism and peace are incompatible.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-15 21:01

      Israel: Has Our Expiration Date Arrived? The question is not whether Israel will still exist in 10 years, but what kind of Israel will be here in 10 years? By Kobi Niv

      larry.lachman.54 - 2012-10-16 06:46

      Israel and Zionism commits no crimes against humanity. Your imagination shows your child-like mentality Lesego. Whereas Islamic fundamentalists have a clear litany of crimes against humanity. Such as suicide bombing, not just in Israel but elsewhere as well. Islam is perfidious. Look at the crimes against humanity occuring as we speak in Syria. For that matter, where are the humanitarian flotillas from Turkey when Syrian civilians under attack from their government need it most.

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