A Bit Late Now

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s ousted Prime Minister, has given an interview to an Israeli newspaper in which he admits that, in order for there to be a lasting peace with Palestinians, Israel will have to withdraw from almost all the Occupied Territories, and will have to concede to a split of Jerusalem.

We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories,” Olmert said. “We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”

Contrast this with a report from a group of leading NGOs claiming that no progress is being made despite the involvement of the US, the EU, the UN and Russia.

The report says that despite the Quartet saying in June that such progress was vital to building confidence in the negotiating process, it has failed to press home its own calls on Israel for a freeze on settlement building, an improvement in the movement of Palestinian people and goods, and a revival of the collapsed economy in Gaza.

On settlements it says there has been a “marked failure to hold the Israeli authorities to their obligation under the [internationally agreed] road map and international law”. It urges the Quartet to go “beyond rhetoric” and take “concrete steps” in the face of a “marked acceleration” in settlement building since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were kick-started by the Annapolis summit last year.

So Olmert recognises that Israel will have to give back occupied territory, but while in power he accelerated the building of illegal settlements on the same land.