Olmert blamed others for stalled talks with Abbas

May 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM
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JERUSALEM, May 24 (UPI) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he blames others in the Israeli government for a breakdown in negotiations with Palestinians.

An article appearing in Sof Hashavua recounted how Olmert met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss a peace deal in 2008, with the two even signing a map of the West Bank that included a percentage of territory set aside for Jewish settlements, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday.

Among other things, the article said that when Abbas didn't return to the negotiating table, Olmert indicated the Palestinians took into account that former U.S. president George W. Bush was near the end of his term and they were hoping for a favorable leader in Washington and believed Olmert was done politically as well.

But Olmert also blamed the breakdown on then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Post said. Olmert cited information from former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's book "No Higher Honor" in which she said Livni approached her and Abbas separately and asked that they not "enshrine" Olmert's peace proposal.

Olmert also told Sof Hashavua that Barak sent representatives to Abbas to tell him not to accept his proposal.

A senior Palestinian official told Sof Hashavua Abbas said he thought Olmert's proposals for Jerusalem and right of return were unacceptable, the Post said.

"There were internal Palestinian talks about the offer," the official said. "These are weighty issues. The natural thing for Abbas to do would be not to sign immediately and to act responsibly and return to consult with the Fatah leadership."

"Over the last few years Abbas has said he was willing to renew the talks from the point at which they ended with Olmert," the official said.

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