Olmert: Right-wing American dollars killed my peace plan

Former prime minister says proposing a division of Jerusalem was the hardest decision of his life

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris in 2008 (photo credit: Thaer Ganaim/Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris in 2008 (photo credit: Thaer Ganaim/Flash90)

Extreme right-wing Americans, armed with “millions and millions of dollars,” scuttled former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s 2008 peace plan with the Palestinians and toppled his government, he said in a CNN interview aired Friday night.

Olmert told Christiane Amanpour that his concessions to the Palestinians met resistance from opposition parties and “superior powers,” including “millions and millions of dollars” from the extreme right-wing Americans who “aimed to topple me as prime minister of Israel.”

The former prime minister refrained from naming the individuals involved.

He also expressed disappointment with the current administration’s dealings with the Palestinian Authority. “My dream is that [Prime Minister Benjamin] 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 said.

Olmert said that it broke his heart to offer a division of Jerusalem — a city of which he was once the mayor — and called it “the most difficult decision of my life.”

He told Amanpour that he still has hope for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “There is time,” he said, “but time is running out.”

“We want peace. We need peace,” he said. “We don’t want to control the life of the Palestinians. We want them to have their own separate state.”

Olmert was in the headlines in Israel this past week when a TV report claimed that the former prime minister had maintained a secret channel to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in 2006 aimed at ending hostilities between Israel and Hamas. The claim was quickly denied by a spokesman for Olmert, while Hamas dismissed the report as a “Zionist fabrication.”

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