What Future for Israel?
What Future for Israel?

What Future for Israel?

At his Jerusalem residence on September 16, 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a map representing the most far-reaching territorial compromise ever proposed by an Israeli premier. According to Olmert, his plan granted the Palestinians a state with a land area equal to 99.5 percent of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel would annex 6.3 percent of Palestinian territory, compensating the Palestinians with Israeli lands equivalent to 5.8 percent, as well as a corridor that would connect the two regions but remain under Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem would be a shared capital, its eastern, Arab neighborhoods part of Palestine, its Jewish neighborhoods in both halves of the city part of Israel, and a roughly two-square-kilometer area encompassing Jerusalem’s Old City would be under international administration.

Olmert has said to numerous interviewers that he told Abbas it was the best offer any Israeli leader would give in the next fifty years. Abbas asked to take the map to show to his experts. Olmert refused, fearing that Abbas would pocket it and insist that it serve as a new starting point for future talks. The two agreed that their negotiators would meet the following day. In the years that followed, Olmert frequently asserted that he never heard from Abbas again. “I’ve been waiting,” he recently said, “ever since.”

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President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is welcomed by Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank June 14, 2022. Mohamad Torokman / REUTERS

Realigning European Policy toward Palestine with Ground Realities

Events in 2021 – particularly the Gaza war – put in sharp relief how much Europe’s policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs a refresh. The European Union and its member states should use the levers they have to push for their stated goal of a peaceful resolution. 

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