In a memoir due out next week, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recounts a one-on-one conversation in Jerusalem with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who presented her with an offer to the Palestinians that she says sent her reeling.
Jerusalem, Olmert suggested, would be divided into two capitals, but they would be run jointly. The mayor would be chosen based on the relative proportion of Jews and Arabs in the city. The Old City, he added, should be administered by a group of "wise people" from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian government, the United States and Israel.
"Am I really hearing this, I wondered?" writes Rice. "Is the Israeli prime minister saying that he'll divide Jerusalem and put an international body in charge of the holy sites?"
What's more, Olmert said, he'd be willing to absorb "a few Palestinians, maybe five thousand."
"Prime Minister, this is remarkable," Rice responded, amazed that an Israeli prime minister would be willing to make such an offer - since, she added, "Yitzhak Rabin had been killed for offering far less."
Rice went to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and outlined the deal. To her shock, he refused it, and continued to refuse it despite several last-ditch efforts by the U.S. administration to get him to agree.
A few months ago, the Al Jazeera network reported that Olmert had shown Abbas a map under which Israel would give up more than 96 percent of Judea and Samaria and compensate the Palestinians for the rest with territory within the Green Line. Israel also agreed to accept the return of a few refugees. But Abbas, as is his wont, refused, just as the Palestinians always have.
After that broadcast, Israeli aficionados of the Palestinians found a million and one reasons why the peace-loving Palestinian leader had refused the offer. Now, in response to Rice's revelations, they will presumably once again blame Israel.
But Abbas' Israeli supporters don't consist solely of civilians. The Israel Defense Forces have also joined his fan club - presumably as a reward for the indisputable proof Rice provided of his stubborn refusal to accept any proposed Israeli concession.
According to the lead story in Haaretz on Monday, the IDF General Staff is proposing "a series of gestures to the Palestinian Authority," including "releasing additional Palestinian prisoners and perhaps transferring additional parts of the West Bank to Palestinian security control."
If so, then the supposedly apolitical IDF is taking a stand on one of the most ideological, politically charged and controversial issues conceivable: It is proposing that we transfer parts of our homeland to Palestinian control ("security" or otherwise ).
Here is a partial list of Abbas' meritorious deeds, on account of which the IDF has lain down on the fence for him: pushing Israel into a diplomatic corner, which reached its peak with his bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state; attempting to convince international public opinion that IDF soldiers are storm troopers; and naming public squares and official institutions after terrorists who killed both soldiers and civilians.
Because they are politically correct, the army's "recommendations" on matters that are the subject of deep ideological controversies have received wide support from the media. One can only imagine what an uproar there would be if the army had recommended annexing territory instead of transferring it to the PA.
The army's top brass, who are perhaps even more desperate than the politicians for affection from the press, may have been showered with praise by media pundits, but they are losing the trust of their officers and soldiers, who tomorrow may be called upon to do battle against those same terrorists they propose releasing "as a gesture to Abbas."
Our chief of staff - who cannot bask in any particular glory as a battlefield commander, to say the least - is demonstrating that in addition to his do-nothing policy in the realm of operations, he is weak and lacking in leadership even when the army is being politicized right under his nose. He, as the army's top commander, is responsible for this destructive trend, which demoralizes the troops and could even, God forbid, cause a rift in the army.
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