For the first time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has confirmed on the record that Israel’s prime minster offered him a map of the borders of a Palestinian state in 2008, and he turned it down–and I’m still waiting for a word of this to appear on an international news agency or website.
It’s the 2008 peace proposal that I discovered in March 2009, but my employers, The Associated Press, banned me from writing about it. A version of the map is here.
Israeli TV’s Channel 10 just wrapped up a three-part series about the peace talks in 2000 and 2008. In an on-camera interview, Abbas confirmed, in Arabic, that he was offered a map with borders of a Palestinian the equivalent to all of the West Bank (with some exchanges of territory), all of Gaza and a land link between the two. He refused to initial it, he said, because he’s not an expert on maps (though the territorial demands were always the most prominent of Palestinian requirements) and anyway, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was under investigation for corruption and would leave office five months later.
I submit that Olmert’s domestic problems were none of his business, and if I were the leader of a nation that wanted a state, and I were offered a map giving me everything I want–I’d sign it and say, “let’s work out the details.” In fact, that’s what Israel did in 1947, when the UN partitioned the British mandatory areas and gave some to Israel–without that “let’s work out the details” part–Israel didn’t even have that option. Its leaders simply accepted the partition as offered, and then fought off Arab armies trying to destroy the Jewish state before it could get started.
But what I think is less important than whether this important disclosure gets any publicity. It’s been several hours since the program aired. I would have expected a news alert and a bulletin as soon as these words escaped Abbas’s lips, and then a full story, and then an analysis. I’m still waiting for any of that, but I’m not holding my breath. If they wouldn’t let me write about it in real time, claiming Israel never made such an offer, why would they write about it now, six years later? It doesn’t fit the accepted pattern that Israel is the intransigent side and the Palestinians are always the helpless victims.