Olmert sides with Netanyahu against Obama's pressure

In a Washington Post op-ed intended to catch President Obama's attention, former Israeli Prime MInister Ehud Olmert urges the U.S. administration to stop obsessing about Jewish settlements and instead focus on Palestinian leader Mahmdoud Abbas's obstructionism in rejecting any realistic two-state solution.

By lining up with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu against Obama's misbegotten diplomacy, Olmert demolishes a central tenet of the president's view of Israel's approach to peacemaking.  Obama has made no secret of the fact that he views Netanyahu's Likud party as the main Israeli obstacle to the peace process.  His administration calculated that, if Likud and Netanyahu could be marginalized -- in Israel as well as among most American Jews -- Obama would be able to get greater concessions from Israel to move toward a two-state solution.

Olmert's article demolishes this scenario by making it clear that it's not just Likud that opposes a total freeze on construction in existing settlements, but that this is a widely held view across the entire Israeli spectrum.  Olmert's Kadima party is just as much at odds with Obama on this as is the Likud.

It's also a signal to American supporters of Israel, including the Jewish community, that it's time to press Obama to focus on Abbas's rejectionism as the main obstacle -- not Netanyahu.

As Olmert reminds the president, it was a Kadima-led government that last year offered Abbas the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza, a land link between the two, all Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, internationalization of Temple Mount and the return of several thousand Palestinian refugees -- and Abbas nevertheless rejected Olmert's offer out of hand.
In a Washington Post op-ed intended to catch President Obama's attention, former Israeli Prime MInister Ehud Olmert urges the U.S. administration to stop obsessing about Jewish settlements and instead focus on Palestinian leader Mahmdoud Abbas's obstructionism in rejecting any realistic two-state solution.

By lining up with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu against Obama's misbegotten diplomacy, Olmert demolishes a central tenet of the president's view of Israel's approach to peacemaking.  Obama has made no secret of the fact that he views Netanyahu's Likud party as the main Israeli obstacle to the peace process.  His administration calculated that, if Likud and Netanyahu could be marginalized -- in Israel as well as among most American Jews -- Obama would be able to get greater concessions from Israel to move toward a two-state solution.

Olmert's article demolishes this scenario by making it clear that it's not just Likud that opposes a total freeze on construction in existing settlements, but that this is a widely held view across the entire Israeli spectrum.  Olmert's Kadima party is just as much at odds with Obama on this as is the Likud.

It's also a signal to American supporters of Israel, including the Jewish community, that it's time to press Obama to focus on Abbas's rejectionism as the main obstacle -- not Netanyahu.

As Olmert reminds the president, it was a Kadima-led government that last year offered Abbas the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza, a land link between the two, all Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, internationalization of Temple Mount and the return of several thousand Palestinian refugees -- and Abbas nevertheless rejected Olmert's offer out of hand.