Did right-wing elements in the United States undermine former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's efforts to achieve regional peace? According to Olmert, the answer is yes.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, which aired on Friday, Olmert
said that extreme right-wing elements in the United States helped derail his peace plan.
Olmert was referring to a peach initiative he presented in 2008, which was based on two-state solution and one he claims would result in a "full comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians."
Olmert told Amanpour the decisions his proposal entailed "broke my heart. It was the most difficult decision of my life… Because for me to propose a division of Jerusalem was really terrible. I did it because I reached a conclusion that without which, there will not be peace."
The fact that the plan was quickly rejected, he added, "Was a killer for me – not only because of the opposition in Israel. I think that, by the way, in Israel the majority of the Israelis would have supported my plan, had it come for elections."
Defeated by 'superior powers'?
Olmert said he believes his peace plan failed because it was up against much more that his government's own Opposition. Much of the blame, he told CNN, lies with the political Right in the United States.
"I had to fight against superior powers, including millions and millions of dollars that were transferred from this country (the US) by figures which were from the extreme right wing, that were aimed to topple me as prime minister of Israel. There is no question about it."
He did not elaborate on the identity of those figures.
Asked whether he believed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to propose a similar plan, he said: "That's why you are prime minister… That's why you take the responsibility of leadership – to do things which are right for the nation that you want to lead."
Leadership is not without its tolls, he added: "I paid personally, dearly. But there was no option for me but to do what I did. And I know for sure, and I know the names, of the people that spent millions of dollars in order to stop me - from the United States."
'Time for peace plan running out'
Still, the former premier said he believes that the two-state solution is still viable: "There is time – but time is running out."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he added, never actually agreed to his 2008 proposal, "But he never said no. So why not reintroduce this plan again and present the challenge to the Palestinians?"
Olmert had previously doubted Netanyahu's judgment when it came to the more difficult decisions of leadership, such as a possible strike againt Iran – a doubt he reiterated in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as well.
"My dream is that Netanyahu will adopt my plan, and will introduce it, but the fact is that we don’t negotiate with the Palestinians, and the fact is that we have not proposed anything," he told CNN.
"Peace is important for Israel. We want peace. We need peace," he continued. "We want to separate from the Palestinians. We don’t want to control the life of the Palestinians. We want them to have their own separate state."
But will Netanyahu pursue such peace? "I certainly pray that he will," Olmert said. "But I doubt that he will."
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