As Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community await the publication of the American peace plan, it is clear, based on PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ behavior in previous peace talks, that nothing the United States can offer will be enough.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was present at the negotiations between then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas in 2008, recently told PA TV how generous Olmert’s offer was on all final status issues. In fact, he said, Olmert accepted all of the PA’s publicly expressed demands and even offered Abbas more than the full area of the West Bank and Gaza, and yet Abbas still rejected the offer.
Erekat explained that the area of the West Bank and Gaza Strip before they came under Israeli control in 1967 was 6,235 square kilometers. Olmert offered Abbas even more land than that, a total of 6,260 square kilometers. At the negotiations, Erekat encouraged Abbas to accept the offer, saying that he could tell Palestinians: “I got more than the 1967 territories.” Abbas rejected the offer.
Regarding Israel’s capital, Olmert was likewise very generous. According to Erekat, Olmert offered: “What’s Arab is Arab, and what’s Jewish is Jewish.” This would have kept the Har Habayis—Judaism’s holiest site—under Palestinian rule, with far-reaching implications for Jews and Judaism. The PA has said many times it would never allow Jews access to the Temple Mount, since it considers Jewish presence on any area of the Temple Mount a desecration of the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque. Yet even this offer wasn’t enough for Abbas.
On the topic of refugees, Olmert was also forthcoming. He offered to have 150,000 refugees absorbed into the State of Israel over a period of 10 years. Abbas rejected it.
It’s no wonder Abbas has announced that the PA has already rejected Trump’s peace proposal—his yet unpublicized “deal of the century.” Since Abbas has already rejected a peace offer that included more than 100% of the land he claims to want, all future offers, including the Trump plan, which will never be as generous, will likewise be rejected.
The following is an excerpt from the interview with Saeb Erekat:
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat: “I heard Olmert say that he offered 100% of the West Bank territory. This is true. I’ll testify to this. He [Olmert] presented a map [to Abbas], and said: ‘I want [Israel] to take 6.5% of the West Bank and I’ll give [the PA] 6.5% of the 1948 territory (i.e., land in Israel) in return.’ [Olmert] said to Abbas: ‘The area of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the eve of June 4, 1967, was 6,235 sq. km. [I said to Abbas]: ‘There are 50 sq. km. of no man’s land in Jerusalem and Latrun.’ We’ll split them between us, so the territory will be 6,260 sq. km.” [I said to Abbas:] Olmert wants to give you 20 sq. km. more, so that you could say [to Palestinians]: ‘I got more than the 1967 territories.’
‘Regarding Jerusalem, [Olmert said]: ‘What’s Arab is Arab, and what’s Jewish is Jewish, and we’ll keep it an open city.’ Regarding the refugees, [Olmert] offered him [Abbas] 150,000 refugees … [Olmert] said: “The refugees’ right to return to the State of Palestine is your law. But regarding Israel, we will accept 150,000 refugees over 10 years. 15,000 [per year] over 10 years.”
[Official PA TV, Philosophy of Endurance, Dec. 1, 2018]
(Palestinian Media Watch)