NEW YORK, Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's new memoir reveals the final status agreement Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on September 16, 2008 and inspires Fair Witness to renew its call for peace negotiations.
"Condoleezza Rice's book reminds us of a missed opportunity," says Rev. Dr. Scott Ickert, pastor of Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arlington, Virginia. "Israel should freeze settlement construction and the Palestinians should drop pre-conditions so negotiations can begin immediately."
Dr. Rice realized Olmert "wants a deal," and describes "the extraordinary details" of the offer. She recalls however, that Abbas' reaction to the news of Olmert's proposal was "'I can't tell four million Palestinians that only five thousand of them can go home.'" Ultimately Abbas "walked away from the negotiations."
Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq., national director of Fair Witness, says "the Palestine Papers, released earlier this year by Al Jazeera, provide additional insights into why the negotiations failed."
The Palestine Papers show that Abbas went into the September 16 meeting knowing Olmert would present an offer, but not intending to accept or counter-offer. (http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/document/4240). While Dr. Rice notes that Olmert declined to give Abbas a copy of the map he showed him, the Palestine Papers include a detailed map dated September 16, 2008 entitled "Projection of Israeli Proposal for Territory," indicating the Palestinians understood the contours of Olmert's offer. (http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/document/3301).
Nothing in the Palestine Papers indicates serious consideration of Olmert's offer or efforts to develop a counter-offer.
Of particular interest in light of Rice's memoir is an October 6, 2008 email from Khaled Elgindy of the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit advising Abbas to delay negotiations until President Bush was out of office. Elgindy explained that Rice wanted an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and could "do damage, even after Jan. 09. In which case, it will still be necessary to neutralize (though not necessarily block) Rice on some level." (http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/document/4113).
"We all pray for peace," says Rev. Ickert, "and this memoir reminds us that negotiations really have the potential to lead to a two-state solution. But both Israelis and Palestinians must take the kind of bold steps that PM Olmert took in 2008."
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SOURCE Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East