Ex-Israeli PM Olmert: Abbas Is the Only Partner for Peace

Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to the joint press conference between Palestinian president and former Prime Minister Olmert as a 'low-point in Israeli history'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, speaks while former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert listens during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
Seth Wenig,AP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is Israel's only partner for peace, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a joint press conference with the Palestinian leader in New York on Tuesday, in which Abbas called for a resumption of peace talks from where they left off during Olmert's term. 

In his statement, Olmert said that an Israeli-Palestinian peace requires direct negotiations between the two sides. He described Abbas as the only representative of the Palestinian people who is willing to negotiate with Israel, also praising him for fighting terrorism. The former prime minister however refrained from criticizing the American peace plan for the Middle East directly: "I don't miss an opportunity to do that in Israel, but I'm not going to do that here," he said. 

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Abbas, who rejected Trump's peace plan in his speech to the UN Security Council on Tuesday, said that he and Olmert are in frequent contact. “I'm fully ready to resume negotiations where we left it with Mr. Olmert, under the umbrella of the Quartet,” Abbas said, emphasizing his opposition to violence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the meeting between Abbas and Olmert a “low point in Israel's history,” and referred to the former prime minister as the “adviser and close friend” of the head of Kahol Lavan, Benny Gantz. The former Israeli prime minister has served time in jail after being convicted for corruption.

Israel's UN ambassador, Danny Danon, also criticized Olmert's remarks: “On the same day that Abu Mazen failed to lead a UN maneuver against the State of Israel, Olmert chose to provide a tailwind for the Palestinians' diplomatic terrorism. Not only does this damage Israel, but it also damages the U.S., which presented an important plan for Middle East peace.”

Abbas said at a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday afternoon that he believes that Trump's peace plan was designed to destroy Palestinian nationhood and will not bring peace or stability to the region. 

The Palestinian Authority rejects the plan and will resist its implementation, he said, adding that the Palestinians are ready to resume negotiations immediately under the auspices of the international community. Abbas stressed that the Authority will continue to fight terrorism and will not turn to violence to protest the Trump plan.