Olmert the peacemaker?


"While prime minister, Olmert also held peace talks with the Palestinians and indirect talks with Syria.

Since leaving office, Olmert has said he offered the Palestinians a deal that would have seen Israel cede about 93.5 percent of the West Bank, along with Israeli territory to make up for the 6.5 percent of the West Bank land that Israel would retain. He also proposed international administration of east Jerusalem's most sensitive holy sites.

The Palestinians sought more West Bank land and demanded Palestinian sovereignty over a disputed hilltop compound that is home to Islam's third-holiest site, according to officials familiar with the talks. Palestinians say the proposals were under discussion when the talks were upended by the Gaza war and by Olmert's downfall. Negotiations have been frozen since Olmert left office."  Yahoonews



I would like to see a list of the sites they were discussing.  "International Administration?"  What, the UN? The "hilltop" so strangely mentioned is the Temple Mount or the Haram al-Sharif, the site of; the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, the two temples (Solomon and Herod), the palace of the crusader kings, headquarters of the Templars, etc.  It would seem to me that international rather than Palestinian control of such a place would be better.  The Palestinians seem to have demonstrated once again that they have never seen a deal that they could not refuse. 

The charges against Olmert seem rather "small bore" business.  The suspicion arises that Olmert's venture into the hazardous world of the negotiators may have had something to do with his present legal problems.

And then, there was the Gaza War.  Was Olmert the driving force behind that operation or was it a convenient way to de-rail negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas?  pl


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29 Responses to Olmert the peacemaker?

  1. b says:

    I’d rather hold back and wait for an additional Palestinian view on what was really proposed.
    There are several other possible deal-brakers not mentioned at all in that piece – refugees, accepting a “Jewish state” (what about its 20% Arab inhabitants), Gaza, settlements outside the 7% of the West Bank Olmert asked for etc.
    Unless we know the complete deal under discussion it is quite preliminary to say the Palestinians “have never seen a deal that they could not refuse”.

  2. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    If you want to determine Israeli intent, simply ask the Israeli PM if the GOI would ever agree into perpetuity not to take by violence or without consent “ a disputed hilltop compound that is home to Islam’s third-holiest site”.
    In many ways, the answer is all you need to know. It is the answer that will answer all other questions about the I/P, Israeli-Arab, Israeli-Muslim conflict.
    Rebuilding the 3rd Temple is deeply ingrained in the Jewish unconscious and the impulse is all tied up in the sexual libido and marriage, past down throughout the centuries. During a Jewish wedding, when the glass is broken…well…I better quote.
    “Even at the most joyous occasion in the couple’s life, we are commanded by our sages to remember that our joy will never be complete until our temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem. Breaking a glass has become the traditional way to express this idea”

  3. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t know as yet how the Iranians found out about this intelligence success. A consumer of the intelligence may have leaked it to a reporter or blogger rather than the IC having leaked it themselves.
    As for the Palestinians, I have been working on or following their issue for about thirty years, so I will stand by my judgment on their capacity for self defeat. pl

  4. JohnH says:

    “Olmert said…” Yeah, right! That’s easy enough for him to say. Ehud Barak said pretty much the same thing after the failed 2000 negotiations.
    But what proof is there that Olmert actually offered anybody anything? How do we know that this isn’t the same old, same old hasbara?
    Such statements sound all too self serving to me, trying to paint a positive picture of yourself when you’re going into the dock.

  5. turcopolier says:

    We don’t know if it is true, but it is interesting. Pl

  6. Fred says:

    International control of the compound? Does that include access to the areas leading to it?
    Why not the entire city of Jerusalum?

  7. Abu Sinan says:

    Sure, the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” but I have also seen many proposed “deals” that no one would take.
    The Israelis in the West Bank sit on the best parts of it and any land they were to cede to keep it would not be anywhere near a similar quality. If Palestinians allowed the Israelis to keep the land they currently have then it means that the Israelis would control the majority of the water resources in the area.
    Also, when the Israelis talk about Palestinian “control” of area it often involves giving up rights that no other sovereign nation would consider, ie control of their own boarders, natural resources, air space and the like.
    If the Israelis offered all of the land the Palestinians could dream of and then refused to give them the rights and the tools of an independent state then they have become little more than Batustans.

  8. turcopolier says:

    The “corpus seperatum?” pl

  9. curious says:

    Posted by: Sidney O. Smith III | 25 September 2009 at 10:49 AM
    Good luck with that one. Essentially, this is involving something that goes all the way back to Uthman caliphate (The temple of dome was built in 685 CE). This is after the roman decided to permanently end Israel by razing everything to the ground. They control that area for about 6 centuries. After Roman collapse, the Islamic caliphate was the ruler in palestine for 12 centuries following that until British occupation around WWI.
    With that much weapons and increasing tension around Israel, it’s a guarantee there will be major war that will destroy everything in there once again.
    So much for 3000 years historical records. The cycle continues. Give it another 3000 years and the idiots will still fighting each other like before. Maybe one or two empires are going to raze Jerusalem to the ground and try to kill everybody once again. It happened 5 times already by historical records in the past 3000 years. Current event says, this is not about to stop. Nobody learns anything from it.
    It doesn’t take a prophet to predict this idiocy.

  10. Bill Wade, NH says:

    Sounds like both sides are quite insane to me. Put the Buddhists in charge of the damn place.

  11. Larry Kart says:

    “Rebuilding the third Temple is deeply ingrained in the Jewish unconscious and the impulse is all tied up in the sexual libido….”
    Dr. Freud, wait till you hear my theory about the root causes of the American Revolution.
    Larry Kart

  12. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Instead of Freud, I highly, highly recommend Gershom Gorenberg’s book, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount.
    Written prior to 9/11 (2000), Gorenberg (an Israeli) makes perfect sense. Brilliant. It is all right there, page after page. And ritual certainly plays a role.
    Perhaps to rephrase the question, under what circumstances would the GOI agree that they will never take the Temple mount by violence or without consent?
    Get an answer and one is a step closer to determining national intent.

  13. JohnH says:

    What about the gigantic obelisk as the monument placed closest to the White House on the Mall? And its timing, in the aftermath of the defeat of the South, and during the conquest of the West? Anything about presidential libido there, foreshadowing the Imperial Presidency and the American Century?

  14. Saf says:

    Presumably the temple mount is in a Palestinian neighbourhood? For a people who have been screwed by the very ‘international control’ to which you refer, abandoning the heart of its capital to that control must surely be a wrench too far. The site may well have meaning to other people; that is irrelevant. Please don’t peddle Palestinian sovereignty at your pleasure. Syria has the finest crusader castle of them all, Krak des Chevaliers. Would you care to put that under international control? Your blog is great Colonel, but the middle east belongs to middle easterners..

  15. Saf says:

    under international control, who would have the right to sell trinkets to tourists?

  16. Patrick Lang says:

    Old fashioned anti-colonial nonsense. Nasser is dead. Have you heard that?
    If you are a Syrian you have never been to Jerusalem. The Temple Mount belongs to God not to any particular group of people.
    Krak Des Chevalier? Perhaps you Syrians should give it back to the Knights of St. John (SMOM) from whom it was stolen. pl

  17. Abu Sinan says:

    You are right in that that the hill(Mount Moriah) the temple once stood on and the Dome of the Rock and the al Aqsa mosque (three mosques in total) stand on is God’s, but the current building is a Muslim one.
    I think Palestinians would have a very hard time giving up control of it when in Muslim minds it is not theirs to give, rather it belongs to all Muslims.
    Reality or not, that is the perception in Muslim communities. If the Palestinians were to give the place to international control it would be seen as a major loss, and as someone else pointed out, considering the way that Palestinians have been dealt with by the international community, who can blame them?
    I think the value in the minds of Muslims of the three mosques on that hill are under estimated. Trust me, Arabs and in a wider sense Muslims, do not have a great love for Palestinians, per se, it is those mosques and the land that is the real issue.
    Palestinians, in an Arab sense, are often looked down upon, so people support the resistance against the Israelis but dont really like or care for the Palestinians.
    If they were to gain a state but lose control of the mount it would be a hollow victory and forever enshrine Palestinians in Muslim minds as the people who gave away what wasnt theirs to give.

  18. WILL says:

    Jerusalem is of course the city of the Bus. or the YaBus aka Jebusites. The Torah blows hot and cold toward the Canaanites, the indigenous people, sometime preaching jihad and holocausts burnt offering of their cities and total extermination. And other places treating them with respect:
    2Sa 24:18 ¶ And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
    2Sa 24:19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.
    2Sa 24:20 And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
    2Sa 24:21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
    2Sa 24:22 And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what [seemeth] good unto him: behold, [here be] oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and [other] instruments of the oxen for wood.

    2Sa 24:23 All these [things] did Araunah, [as] a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.

    2Sa 24:24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
    What if in reality there had been no Exodus, no Jihad, no ancient Holocausts. Just native Hill Canaanites separating from Egyptian rule, that being the true Exodus.
    The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts(Hardcover)

  19. LeaNder says:

    The Temple Mount belongs to God not to any particular group of people.
    Any specific God? Yours, theirs or “ours”? A specifically Jewish, Christian or Muslim god or could it be ultimately the same honored by different traditions? From a Christian point of view I find the idea of God as possessing or distributing real estate on earth somehow peculiar, in our times. I would accept the idea of sacred areas though connected to our religious traditions.
    Beyond colonialism I sense a prejudice in the idea of an international administration. Palestinians/Arabs wouldn’t keep the place open for the other religions? Would destroy all traces of others cultural history? What about simply trying to sit down with them and listening to their ideas and then develop a framework that respects the connections of others to the place? Admittedly I don’t find the idea of a religious theme park to attract tourists too alluring. I surely wouldn’t be among the visitors.

  20. turcopolier says:

    God. THE God, worshipped by Christians, Muslims and Jews. Hindus, Zoroastrians, agnostics and atheists have no stake on the Temple Mount. Have you been to Jerusalem? I grow weary of people’s “cultural sensitivity.” Neither the Israeli Jews nor the Palestinian Muslims have shown any particular sensitivity towards the Palestinian Christians. Those who have heard Israeli tour guides sneer at the “guy called Jesus,” or who have watched as unknown Arab gunmen shoot at night into Israeli towns like Gilo from Christian Arab neighborhoods like Beit Jala to provoke return fire with tank guns would never think that these communities can be trusted to do anythng to safeguard the interests of other groups. I can send you dozens of photographs of the resulting mayhem. Prejudice? You know nothing of prejudice as it exists in the Holy Land. pl

  21. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    LK, JH, et al.
    Gorenberg is correct. An endpoint of post 1967 Zionism — roughly represented by the Likud-Hagee alliance — is rebuilding the Third Temple at the place where the Al Aqsa Mosque now stands. So, imo, analysis should spring from this assumption.
    The evidence is simply overwhelming and I certainly have not seen any statement at this thread that even remotely refutes Gorenberg’s work.
    To the contrary, the demise of Olmert may very corroborate Gorenberg’s contention that the goal of this post 1967 Zionist movement is the idea of redemption of the world through the building of the Third Temple. Gush Enumin prevails, no?
    Zionism didn’t have to take this turn, — just look at the work of M. Buber and J. Magnes, to name a couple. But the Jabotinsky wing of Zionism booted Buber and company out of the club. That is the reality of it all.
    However, much to the credit of some Israelis, including those in Shin Bet, the possibility of a catastrophic attack on the Temple Mount is not taken lightly.
    They keenly realize the power of religious symbols and understand fully that the impulse to attack the Mosque is deeply, deeply ingrained in ritual, starting with Numbers 19, interpretations of the work of Moses Maimonides, and, yes, the birth of the 10th red heifer, which to many will signal the time to take out the Dome of the Rock by any means necessary
    Shin Bet has thwarted several attempts already to take out the Dome of the Rock, some of which were dangerously close to succeeding. But what happens when the goal of the GOI reflects that of the Likud Hagee alliance? What happens when the officers of the IDF begins to reflect the fundamentalism of the West Bank? The demise of Olmert suggests that the shift towards the Likud-Hagee cosmology has already occurred. (Didn’t the Satmar Rabbis predict what would happen?)
    And, of course, back in the States, the Hagee crowd view Netanyahu as a gift from God, as Gorenberg so well points out. So if the Mosque collapses, little doubt Hagee will lift up his Bible to the crowds and claim it was an act of God. And the atomization of the American society rapidly accelerates.
    To each, his or her own, but I would not brush aside Gorenberg’s work nor scoff at the intent of Gush Enumin. The Israelis haven’t but, alas, tragically those with such a view now represent a minority within the Zionist movement and wield no political power. The demise of Olmert appears to prove the point.

  22. Saf says:

    You’re missing the point, perhaps because you don’t believe the same could happen to you? Would you concede sovereignty of New Orleans to international control because it was dear to the French? Our lands are full of artifacts that are meaningful to others, should we give them all away?
    I am Anglo-Syrian and I have not been to Jerusalem because it’s occupied by foreigners.
    The Krak was not taken by me, alas, but by Sultan Baibars, many years ago. The crusader knights themselves took it from the locals who built it. Whom would you have us compensate?
    I fail to see the logic of your new-fashioned beneficence. Are you suggesting that Catholics in Chile have as much claim to the sovereignty of the Vatican as the people of Rome? Nigerian Anglicans enjoying rights over Canterbury? Chechens with rights over Mecca? Russians over Istanbul? Peruvian Jews over Jerusalem? An armed ‘international’ committee to impose its view? We’re not talking about a border in a field we’re talking about the heart of an occupied city.
    I’m afraid my old fashioned Nasserism sounds a little like common sense, whereas your international control sounds a little like a well meaning foreigner starting to patronise the natives. The reason the holy sites are still standing is because the local people have seen fit keep them.
    No doubt you have seen the ugly side of the middle east. Again irrelevant. You’re not entitled to control the middle east because middle easterners do things you don’t like. Jerusalem belongs to the quarrelsome locals.Many Americans are savages too. The Saudis are entitled to tear the Ka’ba down in order to build an indoor ski slope if they wish and if the people of Rome want a new football stadium, well the Vatican takes up a lot of space. It’s unlikely, I know, but it’s a question of sovereignty.
    While you may have witnessed plenty of inter-communal horrific venality, surely you are also aware that there is a common Levantine spirit and a manner that is shared among many different people? If the international control you have in mind is going to facilitate a Levantine wind blowing into Israel to make it part of the region, then so be it. If it is there to perpetuate division and foreign control, then no.
    Israel can become part of the middle east if it chooses to. But it can’t take advantage of international control forever. This is about a common future, not the past. Respected boundaries between the contesting parties can be a good way to start a period of cooperation whereas international control may perpetuate the festering….

  23. LeaNder says:

    Thanks for your comment, Colonel. I respect your experience and your experience and perpective.
    You know nothing of prejudice as it exists in the Holy Land.
    Yes, Theoretically only.
    At one point in my life I wanted to go to Israel, it even felt right to go back to the source concerning religion. But the more I thought about it the more it felt like an escape, an attempt to get rid of something really difficult: being German. After that purely mental meanderings I decided I had to accept who I am and yes, I didn’t spend much time to think about visiting Israel after, although I have been invited again occasionally, or friends tried to convince me to join a trip to the Holy Land.
    I think the result was that I suppressed the whole conflict or wanting to know more about it, till post 911.

  24. turcopolier says:

    Calm down. Remember your blood pressure. Pl
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  25. turcopolier says:

    I would like to keep NOLA. May I offer you NY city instead? Pl
    Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

  26. Patrick Lang says:

    You would not have liked it. The level of oppression of the Palestinians is too much even for my dulled sensibilities. The only thing worse is the sullen acceptance by the Palestinians of their degraded lives. pl

  27. Patrick Lang says:

    I do understand and I actually have read a few books.
    My point would be that nationalism is a disgusting notion, degrading to the human condition and the the search for ultimate ownership is simple absurd.
    “The local people from whom the Hospitallers took the Krak” or whatever was there before, (what, a pile of mud bricks?) Are they the ancestors of the blond, blue eyed people seen in the village below the Krak? I had the the impression that the warrior monks had frequent congress with their feminine ancestors. pl

  28. Saf says:

    You read me like a book. I feel throttled. New York would be no good for me. How about San Fransisco?

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    With 2 modifications your idea of internationalization of Jerusalem might be workable.
    The first is to reduce and limit the multi-lateralized area to the holy sites. That is, the Temple Mount, the various Holy Churches, etc. In this manner, the Palestinians can claim sovereignty over “Al Quds” as their capital while the Israelis can proclaim (Western) Jerusalem as their “Eternal Capital” (as eternal as anything else in this world).
    For the holy sites: that could be organized into a sovereign state run by a religious committee. I envision an executive committee with representations from the Jews, the Catholics, the Orthodox, the Sunni, and the Shia.
    How these representatives are selected and the charter of the Jerusalem Ecumenical Territory will be subject of negotiations
    The multi-lateralized Jerusalem should not be directly tied to any state in order to avoid the local politics of these states.

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