NY Times peddles delusions about Abbas as peacemaker

"Olmert says he and Abbas were near deal in '08," reads the headline on the front page article in the New York Times in the Jan. 28 edition.

Except that it takes a great delusional leap to reach this conclusion from perusing the newly published memoirs of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.  A more accurate headline would read:  "Olmert blames Abbas for rejecting generous peace deal in '08."

There was no real peace deal in the offing, as Olmert ruefully admits.  But leave it to the New York Times and its Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, to bend over backwards to protect and preserve Abbas's phony image as an acceptable peace partner, even when Olmert's own account of negotiations with the Palestinian leader points in exactly the opposite direction.

What happened in '08 when Olmert and Abbas were deep into hammering out a possible peace agreement?  Why did the talks collapse?  According to Bronner's version of Olmert's version, there was some "hesitation" by Abbas, but also the Israeli war in Gaza, and Olmert's own legal troubles. Plus Israeli elections -- with Netanyahu succeeding Olmert as prime minister  Three  times as many obstacles on the Israeli side than on the Palestinian side. 

So exactly what was on the table when the Olmert-Abbas talks petered out?  Olmert had offered Abbas all of Gaza, 94 percent of the West Bank, fully compensated by Israeli land swaps, a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza, a division of Jerusalem, a return of several thousand Palestinian refugees to Israel, plus generous compensation for resettlement of other refugees, plus an international consortium consisting of Palestine, Israel, the U.S., Jordan and Saudi Arabia to administer sacred Jewish, Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem's Old City.

It's not until far down in his article that Bronner finally deigns to report the heart and guts of Olmert's memoirs -- that Olmert showed Abbas the exact maps for a Palestinian state and urged him to accept the deal with all its sweeteners, that Abbas kept asking for more time, that Olmert agreed to Abbas's request to return the next day with his own cartographer, but when the next day came Olmert got a phone call that Abbas had forgotten an appointment he had that day in Amman and asked for a one-week postponement.

"I haven't met with Abu Mazen (Abbas's monicker) since then," Olmert recounts in his memoirs.

In other words, Abbas strung out Olmert throughout the talks and then flinched from accepting a peace agreement, just as Yasser Arafat had strung out Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak in marathon negotiations at Camp David in 2000.

Neither Arafat nor Abbas seriously aimed to cut a sensible deal, but instead engaged in putting on make-believe shows that Bronner and the New York Times accept as real goods.

It's the Israeli-Palestinian version of Lucy and Charlie Brown in Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" cartoon.  Lucy (Abbas) keeps holding the football (peace is near) for Charlie Brown (Olmert) to kick it, but yanks it away at the last moment.

And all the while -- despite all the indications and experience to the contrary -- Bronner and the New York Times keep applauding this charade and, in the process, blaming Charlie Brown for Lucy's pernicious tricks.

In this topsy-turvy world, the cartoonist turns out to be more clear-eyed than the NY Times.   Schulz had Lucy's number; Bronner doesn't. 
"Olmert says he and Abbas were near deal in '08," reads the headline on the front page article in the New York Times in the Jan. 28 edition.

Except that it takes a great delusional leap to reach this conclusion from perusing the newly published memoirs of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.  A more accurate headline would read:  "Olmert blames Abbas for rejecting generous peace deal in '08."

There was no real peace deal in the offing, as Olmert ruefully admits.  But leave it to the New York Times and its Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, to bend over backwards to protect and preserve Abbas's phony image as an acceptable peace partner, even when Olmert's own account of negotiations with the Palestinian leader points in exactly the opposite direction.

What happened in '08 when Olmert and Abbas were deep into hammering out a possible peace agreement?  Why did the talks collapse?  According to Bronner's version of Olmert's version, there was some "hesitation" by Abbas, but also the Israeli war in Gaza, and Olmert's own legal troubles. Plus Israeli elections -- with Netanyahu succeeding Olmert as prime minister  Three  times as many obstacles on the Israeli side than on the Palestinian side. 

So exactly what was on the table when the Olmert-Abbas talks petered out?  Olmert had offered Abbas all of Gaza, 94 percent of the West Bank, fully compensated by Israeli land swaps, a corridor between the West Bank and Gaza, a division of Jerusalem, a return of several thousand Palestinian refugees to Israel, plus generous compensation for resettlement of other refugees, plus an international consortium consisting of Palestine, Israel, the U.S., Jordan and Saudi Arabia to administer sacred Jewish, Muslim and Christian sites in Jerusalem's Old City.

It's not until far down in his article that Bronner finally deigns to report the heart and guts of Olmert's memoirs -- that Olmert showed Abbas the exact maps for a Palestinian state and urged him to accept the deal with all its sweeteners, that Abbas kept asking for more time, that Olmert agreed to Abbas's request to return the next day with his own cartographer, but when the next day came Olmert got a phone call that Abbas had forgotten an appointment he had that day in Amman and asked for a one-week postponement.

"I haven't met with Abu Mazen (Abbas's monicker) since then," Olmert recounts in his memoirs.

In other words, Abbas strung out Olmert throughout the talks and then flinched from accepting a peace agreement, just as Yasser Arafat had strung out Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak in marathon negotiations at Camp David in 2000.

Neither Arafat nor Abbas seriously aimed to cut a sensible deal, but instead engaged in putting on make-believe shows that Bronner and the New York Times accept as real goods.

It's the Israeli-Palestinian version of Lucy and Charlie Brown in Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" cartoon.  Lucy (Abbas) keeps holding the football (peace is near) for Charlie Brown (Olmert) to kick it, but yanks it away at the last moment.

And all the while -- despite all the indications and experience to the contrary -- Bronner and the New York Times keep applauding this charade and, in the process, blaming Charlie Brown for Lucy's pernicious tricks.

In this topsy-turvy world, the cartoonist turns out to be more clear-eyed than the NY Times.   Schulz had Lucy's number; Bronner doesn't. 

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