When former Israeli Prime Minister Manachem Begin, one of the few MKs who voted against Camp David, was asked what impressed him most about Ehud Olmert he replied that it was Olmert’s cunning. It is a quality that has been amply displayed in recent days in Olmert’s handling of the Annapolis Summit.
On the one hand, Olmert proclaims his “absolute” commitment to the success of the summit while on the other is doing all in his power to undermine it. How else can one interpret his forcing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to agree, in their last meeting together, to a “loose” memorandum stating the general outlines for a solution without mentioning any principles regarding the four final status issues — Jerusalem, five million Palestinian refugees, permanent borders and Israeli settlements? And just to make himself perfectly clear, Olmert called this document “a non-binding declaration of intentions”. His foreign minister, Tzipi Levni, was even clearer. The memorandum, she said on 3 October, should contain no more than “a declaration by both sides of their commitment to resolve the conflict by peaceful means”. If there is any need for further evidence of Olmert’s complete disdain for Abu Mazen it is to be found in his pledge to the ultra-right religious Shas Party that the document would contain no reference to the future of Jerusalem. [complete article]