Two-state solution can bring peace in MidEast: Former Israeli PM
Ehud Olmert says UAE's signing of peace treaty with Israel has set a trend for major change in the region
The leadership of the UAE deserves recognition for the decision to sign a peace treaty with Israel that will set the trend for a major change in the entire Middle East, said Ehud Olmert, former Prime Minister of Israel.
Speaking at the Global Investment Forum organised by Khaleej Times in Dubai on Wednesday, he said this should prompt Israel to recognise Palestinians' right to self-determination.
“The UAE leadership has manifested something admirable. They were prepared to take a step, which may be seen by some, especially in the region, to be risky, dangerous and unpopular. But I would say they have set an example that should be followed by many others,” said Olmert. “Now it's time for the leaders of other countries, starting with the leaders of Israel, to take a giant step forward in order to resolve all the outstanding issues which are still creating difficulties in our part of the world.”
Referring to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the former Israeli prime minister said: “Resolving conflicts in the region will make the Middle East in a short period of time the most powerful region in the world.”
Replying to a question that whether normalisation between Israel and the Gulf states is going to help bring reconciliation to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Olmert said: “The example that was set by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is admirable because he has the vision, the leadership to step ahead and think I am going to try and change something.”
The former prime minister went on to say that it is time for Israel to change and to settle on a two-state solution with Palestine. “Israel has to step up because we are stronger. We are occupying the Palestinians. So, we have to step up and say we are ready to sit down immediately without any precondition for a two-state solution. And I hope that Mahmoud Abbas will have the wisdom and courage to do what he failed to do when I proposed to him a solution which was based on the ’67 borders with two states. This can change the entire Middle East. And yes, I think that the agreement we have with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, can bring change.”
Olmert served as the 12th prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009. During his interview at the Global Investment Forum, he said he firmly believes in a two-state solution. “I firmly believe that there will be an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, that it will be a two-state agreement, that the borders that will be set will be more or less the ones proposed in 2008; the agreement would be more or less identical to what I’d proposed to Abbas. And I think that will happen sooner than most people think for two reasons. First, it is essential for the Palestinians because they are becoming weaker and second, the world is starting to become a little bit tired of dealing with this issue, and they may lose the sympathy and the support of large communities in the world if they will not show much more strength and courage.”
A two-state solution will work in the best interests of Israel too. “Needless to say, this is in the interest of Israel to have a peace agreement with Palestine. This is something that we must recognise. The Palestinians must have their own self-determination in the territories, which are inhabited by Palestinians. We have to respect this and at the same time to cooperate with them,” said Olmert.
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