Only Abbas Able to Make Peace, Says Olmert
Mahmoud Abbas is the only Palestinian leader capable of striking a peace deal with Israel, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said in comments after the two men met in Paris.
"The only person among the Palestinian people who is capable of doing it and who proved in the past that he is completely committed to do it is Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, and that's why I have an immense respect for him," he said.
He was speaking to the official television station of the Abbas-headed Palestinian Authority after their meeting.
U.S.-brokered peace talks have been frozen since 2014, and the Palestinian leadership cut contact with the White House after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.
Palestinians accuse Trump of blatant bias in favor of Israel and say he is blackmailing them to force them to accept the White House's terms.
Olmert headed the Israeli government from 2006 to 2009, when a bid to agree on a two-state solution collapsed with Israeli officials accusing Abbas of rejecting a plan proposed by Olmert.
"President Abbas never said 'no' to my plan, never," said Olmert.
Olmert's comments prompted a cold reaction from the Israeli government.
Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, a member of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, said Abbas had "humiliated" Olmert.
"He did not even respond to his miserable proposal to create a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and an (Israeli) withdrawal to the 1967 lines," Akunis said.
Olmert was released from prison in July 2017 after serving 16 months for corruption during his term as mayor of Jerusalem.