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When the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and former Israeli Prime Minister and ex-convicted, Ehud Olmert, held their joint press conference in New York this past Tuesday it was hard to miss the hypocrisy of the two men. Olmert and Abbas know each other very well. During his time as Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert has  met with Abbas 36 times to negotiate a deal which lead nowhere. Fast-forward eleven years and you’ll find Mahmoud Abbas visiting New York in order to convince the UN Security Council to condemn a peace plan, and a failed former Israeli Prime Minister visiting New York to participate in the extreme-left-anti-Israel organization, J-Street.

It is therefore not surprising when a Palestinian leader who does not have his citizens’ best interest at heart, and a former Israeli Prime Minister who is no longer relevant meetup to discuss their rejection of a Peace Plan that is designed to bring prosperity to the Palestinian people.

In the press conference Olmert mentioned that Israel’s partner for negotiations should be Mahmoud Abbas. Should it really? Mahmoud Abbas, marking his fifteenth year of his four year term as head of the PA, is notorious for rejecting any peace plan that is offered to him. Abbas talks about chasing peace and wanting to sit down at the negotiating table yet he  turned down Ehud Olmert’s 2008 offer to withdraw from 100% of the West Bank in addition to 20 sq. kilometers more, so that Abbas could say to his people that he got more than what he bargained for. However, Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah, told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan showed a “lack of seriousness.”

It is therefore absurd that Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas and had the audacity to come to the United States and speak out against President Trump’s Peace Plan. Olmert had his chance and failed. The Palestinians turned down his generous offer that would, according to some, jeopardize Israeli security. I am no renowned negotiator and do not pretend to be one, but I do think that getting more than 100% of your dividend through negotiations ought to be considered a victory.

The other issue with the Olmert-Abbas fiasco is why Olmert even came to the United States in the first place. He is not relevant in Israeli politics and has no mandate, so what relevance does he claim? If you ask him, the answer is that he wanted to share ideas he was thinking about that are shared by other Israelis. Having disagreements is very natural and healthy for society, but as in every democracy, the place you look for political representation is at the voting poll – not at a former felon.

The idea that Olmert believes he is still relevant and has a mandate to represent Israel is beyond me.At the end of the day, their joint deceleration in New York is inappropriate. As we all know, any peace negotiation should take place in Jerusalem and Ramallah – not in New York. If only there were a Palestinian leader who is willing to sit down and talk seriously, maybe then we would see peace and come celebrate the coexistence in New York.

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About the Author

Benjamin Weil
Benjamin Weil is Director of the Project for Israel’s National Security at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He formerly served as the international adviser to Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of Israel’s Security Cabinet.

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