Were Ehud Olmert and Mahmud Abbas on the Verge of Peace in 2007?

November 27, 2015

For years, disgraced former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has claimed that in 36 secret negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas in 2007, they were within several months of concluding an agreement that would have resolved all issues in an end-of-conflict two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. However, at the same time that he was negotiating with Abbas, Olmert was being investigated aggressively for corruption by his former right-wing political allies because, Olmert claims, he was on the verge of striking a deal with Abbas.

Is this true?

Raviv Drucker, an Israeli journalist, political commentator and investigative reporter, aired on Israeli television Channel 10 recently a film he called “The Secrets of the Peace Talks.” There both President Abbas and former PM Olmert agreed that they were very very close to a peace deal that would have settled all claims.

TLV1’s The Promised Podcast’s Noah Efron, Don Futterman and Allison Kaplan Sommer discussed Raviv’s film’s revelations in their segment this week called “Did Peace Slip Through Our Fingers?” (the segment begins at 13 minutes 15 seconds and continues to 28 minutes).

This is an important story that might give pause to pro-Israel skeptics that there really never was a peace partner for Israel among the Palestinians, for the film reveals how close Olmert and Abbas really were, how much Olmert was willing to give, how well they worked together, and Olmert’s plan to bring the agreement before the UN Security Council for approval and then to Israeli and Palestinian populations for their respective approval of the deal. But, everything fell apart when Olmert was forced to resign. Then Benjamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister and he promised to disregard any agreement Olmert had made with Abbas.

The three TLV1 journalists wonder whether peace slipped through their fingers or whether there ever was a realistic chance for an agreement had Olmert remained in office.

Skeptics need to hear this story. One of the take-aways is that leadership matters and perhaps, in Olmert, we had such a leader.

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