In a New York Times op-ed published Thursday, Olmert warns that the result may be chaos and violence, making the possibility of a peace agreement "even more distant, if not impossible."
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Leadership, he writes, "is tested not by one’s capacity to survive politically but by the ability to make tough decisions in trying times." Today, he believes, a peace initiative is more necessary than ever to prove to the world that Israel is a peace-seeking country.
"The window of opportunity is limited. Israel will not always find itself sitting across the table from Palestinian leaders like Mr. Abbas and the prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who object to terrorism and want peace. Now is the time. There will be no better one. "
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According to Olmert, the parameters of a peace deal are well known and have already been put on the table in September 2008 in his far-reaching offer to 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."
'Turkey is not an enemy of Israel'
The Palestinian refugee problem, according to Olmert's plan, will be addressed within the framework of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
"The new Palestinian state would become the home of all the Palestinian refugees just as the State of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. Israel would, however, be prepared to absorb a small number of refugees on humanitarian grounds."
The former PM adds, "We Israelis simply do not have the luxury of spending more time postponing a solution. A further delay will only help extremists on both sides who seek to sabotage any prospect of a peaceful, negotiated two-state solution."
Addressing the crisis with Turkey, Olmert states that Israel must make every effort to defuse tensions as soon as possible.
"Turkey is not an enemy of Israel," he says. "I have worked closely with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In spite of his recent statements and actions, I believe that he understands the importance of relations with Israel."
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