Olmert, Abbas outline 2008 differences and agreements

Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas made advances in peace talks but could not overcome differences over settlements and refugees in time.

The sides agreed on sharing Jerusalem’s Old City and on the security conditions for a Palestinian state, Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister, and Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, both told the New York Times in interviews, and were close on borders and refugees.

The talks fell apart in late 2008 after it became clear that Olmert’s leadership could not survive scandals.

The sides agreed to keeping the “Holy Basin” in Jerusalem in a multinational trust, and that the Palestinian state should be demilitarized.

There was agreement on allowing a limited number of refugees to return—but broad gaps on the actual number.

The Palestinians also were steadfast in their objection to Israel retaining two major settlements, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel.

Both leaders said U.S. bridging proposals might have overcome the differences. The Bush administration was reluctant to play such a proactive role in the process.