Olmert spoke at a book release event held in honor of the publication of the book "Oslo, The True Story" by Ron Pundak, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords and the former Director General for the Peres Peace Center. "20 years ago I was angry with (those behind the accords) but today I thank them," Olmert said.
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"The importance of the Oslo Accords was that negotiations with the Palestinians cannot be indirect and shrouded in mystery."
'Not pessimistic about peace.' Olmert (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Olmert discussed the leadership's handling of the conflict, saying, "It is impossible to conduct negotiations without a clear position regarding who holds the final responsibility. There is a point where the person at the top of the pyramid needs to clearly state what he wants and what he believes in, specifically in a democratic reality."
Olmert denied allegations arguing that he believes Israel is to blame for the fact there is no peace agreement as of yet, saying: "I never said that. I don't think that is true. The Palestinians have missed more chances. It is OK to say that.
Olmert, Ron Pundak, Yossi Beilin (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
"But we are nearing a point in which the international community will place the blame on Israel for failing to reach a peace agreement. This will damage Israel's legitimacy in the world and will greatly influence our lives."
Regarding the timing of such an agreement, the former prime minster said that "20 years ago it was premature, now we're at the point … where we are likely to miss the opportunity to preserve the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."
Olmert also commented on US Secretary of State John Kerry's recent attempts at reviving peace talks through bouts of shuttle diplomacy.
"I respect the secretary of state. They couldn’t have found a person with a stronger sense of leadership, and I want to give him some advice. First, not to invest too much energy on traveling. Every time, one meeting after another, just to define the preconditions of a negotiation – better to work on their ending point."
The former prime minister added that he would also like to advise Kerry to refrain from what he called the "American syndrome" of starting every negotiation from scratch.
"Every American administration begins its term by returning to square one in all of the problems of the Mideast. Kerry should begin where the former administration left off."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "said a year ago that he regretted not signing the peace deal I proposed. He said that if I had remained prime minister for three more months we could've reached an agreement," Olmert said.
"Reaching an agreement is possible; it is realistic, but you need to want it and you need to pray that the leadership will want it."
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