By Ehud Olmert

AS the United Nations General Assembly opens this year, I feel uneasy. An unnecessary diplomatic clash between Israel and the Palestinians is taking shape in New York, and it will be harmful to Israel and to the future of the Middle East.

I know that things could and should have been different.

I truly believe that a two-state solution is the only way to ensure a more stable Middle East and to grant Israel the security and well-being it desires. As tensions grow, I cannot but feel that we in the region are on the verge of missing an opportunity — one that we cannot afford to miss.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, plans to make a unilateral bid for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations on Friday. He has the right to do so, and the vast majority of countries in the General Assembly support his move. But this is not the wisest step Mr. Abbas can take.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has declared publicly that he believes in the two-state solution, but he is expending all of his political effort to block Mr. Abbas’s bid for statehood by rallying domestic support and appealing to other countries. This is not the wisest step Mr. Netanyahu can take.

In the worst-case scenario, chaos and violence could erupt, making the possibility of an agreement even more distant, if not impossible. If that happens, peace will definitely not be the outcome.

The parameters of a peace deal are well known and they have already been put on the table. I put them there in September 2008 when I presented a far-reaching offer to Mr. Abbas.

According to my offer, the territorial dispute would be solved by establishing a Palestinian state on territory equivalent in size to the pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza Strip with mutually agreed-upon land swaps that take into account the new realities on the ground.

The city of Jerusalem would be shared. Its Jewish areas would be the capital of Israel and its Arab neighborhoods would become the Palestinian capital. Neither side would declare sovereignty over the city’s holy places; they would be administered jointly with the assistance of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Read more…

Ehud Olmert was prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009.

As published in www.nytimes.com on September 21, 2011(a version of this op-ed appeared in print on September 22, 2011, on page A31 of the New York edition with the headline: Peace Now, or Never).


rick perl September 22, 2011 - 4:02 pm

The key words in Olmert’s comments were “The parameters of a peace deal are well known and they have already been put on the table. I put them there in September 2008 when I presented a far-reaching offer to Mr. Abbas” and what was written but left out of this article was “These parameters were never formally rejected by Mr. Abbas, and they should be put on the table again today”
What’s missing is that many of agreements have been proposed to the Palestinians, most were rejected do to the Palestinians not wanting to accept the state of Israel.
Abbas has a choice, accept Israel as a country and then there maybe peace (if the Palestinians live up to the agreement) or make one final grandstand to cement his place with the Palestinians and other Arabs and then there won’t be any peace. His choice alone, be a hero to the world and accept a mutually acceptable agreement or not accept and be a hero to the Palestinians and other Arabs.
[read the entire oped at this link http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/opinion/Olmert-peace-now-or-never.html?_r=2&hp

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