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According to Tom Friedman: Kerry plan gives Palestinians less than Olmert's

Tom Friedman writes from Tel Aviv:

The “Kerry Plan,” likely to be unveiled soon, is expected to call for an end to the conflict and all claims, following a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (based on the 1967 lines), with unprecedented security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Palestinians for them with Israeli territory. It will call for the Palestinians to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and for Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into Israel proper.

If Friedman is right – and his account is in line with previous leaks – the “Kerry Plan” will be less favorable to the Palestinians than the final offer made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In a way, it rewards Netyanyahu for his hardline positions.

Olmert offered to take 25,000 Palestinian refugees into Israel (Abbas wanted 150,000). As for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state – Olmert did bring it up, but never made it a central part of his policy, especially not in the late stages of the talks. One could also take from Friedman’s column an assumption that Kerry won’t insist on 1:1 land swaps for the settlement blocs Israel intends to annex (though this is not entirely clear from the way Friedman phrases it). According to some accounts, Olmert came pretty close to 1:1 ratio.

Prime Minister Olmert was in trouble over corruption charges by the time he made his offer to Abbas. Both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams thought that Abbas would “break away with Olmert,” and indeed, negotiations did not continue.

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    1. Joel

      More schmucks the Palestinians for not accepting Olmert’s offer.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Olmert, for all of his “good” intentions, would have never been able to sell his agreement to the Israeli public. He was on his way out, and the talks he held with the Palestinians were nothing more than a red herring for his legal troubles. Also, the wikileaks documents show that his offers to the Palestinians weren’t all that great anyway. Finally, Olmert is perhaps one of the prime ministers with the MOST Palestinian blood on his hands.

      Bibi is a different matter. He doesn’t have legal problems; he is a true ideologue who will be able to sell an agreement to the Israeli public; and his hands are relatively clean from blood. Plus, if Friedman’s claims are true, then Bibi’s offer doesn’t sound very far from Olmert’s. For this reason, the Palestinians should much prefer Bibi to Olmert as a partner.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        You are confused. Friedman describes what he thinks Kerry’s framework will be, not Bibi’s proposal.

        1) I think Friedman is being more generous than Kerry will be. This is because these ideas would leave Bibi completely politically a dead man were he to accept them. There is literally no good scenario for Bibi if he accepts the partition of Jerusalem.

        2) The Kerry framework will form the new maximum for Palestinian demands were they to accept it. The actual outcome of negotiations will be even less generous to the Palestinians.

        3) The Palestinians have no choice but to accept the framework. They have no plan B.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          To be clear – I’m not at all saying that Bibi is a good partner for the Palestinians. What I mean is if (and this is a hypothetical “if” at this point) Israel were to be pressured by the U.S. to make serious moves towards peace (say, by threat of sanctions such as cut off of aid, end of automatic UNSC veto, etc), Bibi would prove to be a much better partner simply because he could – if he wanted to – sell an agreement to the Israeli people.

          That’s it. Other than a hypothetical situation that will probably never materialize, Bibi is as far away from making peace with the Palestinians as one could be.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Oh no, I actually understood exactly what you are saying with regard to Bibi being someone who would be able to push through an agreement.

            My issue was with the phrasing “Bibi’s offer”, which this isn’t, and Bibi’s offer is likely to be significantly less generous to the Palestinians than, what I believe is, Friedman’s overgenerous estimation of Kerry’s framework.

            At the same time, even Bibi can’t sell the terms described by Friedman. Not because he has principles, but because his own wing would stab him in the back and collapse his government before he could. Even were he to manage to be magnificently agile and form some kind of coalition in the center, the government would collapse long before actual final status talks came to fruition and we would go to elections. I would not place a bet on talks surviving that election.

            Reply to Comment
      • Rehmat

        Which Palestinian leader prefers Bibi over Olmert? In case you have Mahmoud Abbas in mind – do you know Abbas’ mandate as chairman of PA expired in January 2009. Since then, only US-Israel consider him the so-called “reliable partner”.

        As far Bibi is concerned, American Jewish investigative journalist, Stephen Ledman, clled him “a serial liar” just yesterday.


        Reply to Comment
        • Johnboy

          Abbas’ position as President of the Palestinian Authority is irrelevant, since the PA has never been the negotiating partner with Israel on final status issues.

          Not once.
          Not ever.

          The sole and universally recognized representative of the Palestinian people is the PLO, and so Abbas negotiates with Livni in his role as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO.

          Which is not (nor has it ever been) a democratically-elected position.

          Indeed, I know of no leader of a National Liberation Movement (which is what the PLO is) who was democratically elected BEFORE the national liberation was won.

          Not Ghandi.
          Not Mandela.
          Not Ben-Gurion.

          That you describe Abbas as “chairman of PA” reveals the depth of your ignorance, since no such position exists.

          Never has. Never will be.

          Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        From the Palestinians view , Olmert’s intentions should have been irrelevant. Likewise, selling the peace plan to Israel wasn’t the Palestinian’s problem.
        An offer was made and the Pals never responded to it.


        Reply to Comment
        • Johnboy

          Joel: “An offer was made and the Pals never responded to it”

          If you follow the link in the article you’ll see that you are factually-incorrect i.e. “Abrams writes that rather than ignoring the proposal, the Palestinians asked for clarifications about it and then claimed it was they who never heard back.”

          Reply to Comment
    3. Hank Essay

      Maybe the Palestinians should have responded then to the offer (note that I didn’t say reject.). It would be helpful now if they had a position to the Olmert offer on record, wouldn’t you say??? Now, they have no leverage viz a via the Olmert offer…Never missing an opportunity…

      Reply to Comment