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Olmert: Right-wing U.S. cash killed my peace plan

May 4th, 2012
05:08 PM ET

- Ehud Olmert says extreme right-wing elements in the United States helped derail his peace plan
- They poured millions of dollars into efforts to topple him from office, he says
- Olmert, who quit as prime minister amid corruption allegations, does not name the right-wing figures
- His 2008 peace plan proposed a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders

By the CNN Wire Staff

       (CNN) - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said millions of dollars from the "extreme right wing" in the United States helped oust him from government and derailed a peace plan with the Palestinians.

In an exclusive interview aired Friday with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Olmert said his attempts to make peace had been "a killer" for him as prime minister.

In 2008, Olmert sought a "full comprehensive peace between us and the Palestinians" - a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. But the plan was never realized and Olmert was forced from office accused of corruption, which he denies.

"It was a killer for me, not only because of the opposition in Israel. I think that, by the way, in Israel, the majority of the Israelis would have supported my plan, had it come for elections," Olmert said.

"But I had to fight against superior powers, including millions and millions of dollars that were transferred from this country (the United States) by figures which were from the extreme right wing that were aimed to topple me as prime minister of Israel. There is no question about it."

Pressed to name names, Olmert replied: "Next time."

Asked if current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to propose such a plan, given the same political risks, Olmert said it was the responsibility of a leader to put his country first.

"That's why you are prime minister," said Olmert. "That's why you take the responsibility of leadership. To do things which are right for the nation that you want to lead."

But Olmert acknowledged that such leadership comes at a price. "I paid personally, dearly. But there was no option for me but to do what I did. And I know for sure, and I know the names, of the people that spent millions of dollars in order to stop me - from the United States."

He was then asked if there is still time for a two-state solution. "There is time," said Olmert, "but time is running out."

He admits that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, never said yes to his 2008 proposal, but also insists that he never said no.

"So why not reintroduce this plan again, and present the challenge to the Palestinians?" asked Olmert.

He said he hoped his successor, Netanyahu, would adopt his peace proposal - which included the division of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital - but that so far this had not happened.

"The fact is that we don't negotiate with the Palestinians. And the fact is that we have not proposed anything," he said.

Olmert suggested the current Israeli government was content to blame the Palestinians for a reluctance to negotiate, rather than striving for a peace deal which is of great importance to Israel.

"We want peace. We need peace. We want to separate from the Palestinians," he said.

"We don't want to control the lives of the Palestinians. We want them to have their own separate state and we have to do everything in our power in order to bring it about."

Olmert said it broke his heart to propose the division of Jerusalem, which he served as mayor from 1993 to 2003. But the difficult decision was necessary, he said. "For me to propose a division of Jerusalem was really terrible. I did it because I reached a conclusion that without which there will not be peace."

Asked if Netanyahu will seek such a peace, Olmert said, "I certainly pray that he will." Then he added, "I doubt that he will."

Olmert was indicted on a variety of corruption charges in 2008 in a probe that dogged his last months in office.

He held several Cabinet posts under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma since a stroke in 2006. Olmert succeeded Sharon after his stroke.

Olmert announced his resignation in September 2008, after the corruption investigation deepened, and left office after a new government took power in March 2009. Other corruption allegations have followed.

Olmert declined to discuss the charges with CNN. He has denied wrongdoing in all cases.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. seun

    Here at least is a leader who can shed the toga of setiments and take decisions based on the stark realities of the middle east crises.

    May 5, 2012 at 12:15 am | Reply
  2. Sonny chux

    Ehud olmert seemed sincere to me. Netanyahu is busy blowing war trumpet, when d people are tired of war. His policies have failed!

    May 5, 2012 at 3:47 am | Reply
  3. Beelzebub

    Let's have those names.

    May 5, 2012 at 8:36 am | Reply
    • Julian Assange

      If he starts listing those names, one by one, he will be assassinated before he discloses the last one...

      May 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply
    • coco


      May 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  4. greencook

    Why is this so not surprising? Extreme Zionist from the US who have an Old Testament vision of the world trying to keep the Palestinians from being recognized as human beings, stalling the peace process for another seventy years, setting up a modern South African apartheid state. Go Jews! Go Israel! Go Racism! Ya!

    May 5, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
    • Carlos Marin

      Apartheid state? Israel is the only country in the ME where Jews and Arabs live together in peace, both having full rights. Arabs in Israel (especially women) have more rights than they do in any other country in the ME.

      May 5, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Reply
      • OldCactus

        You are a voice crying in the wilderness of stupidity. Do not be surprised that they reject what you say.

        May 5, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  5. American Jew

    Regardless of what actually happened, listening to Israelis blame others for their political, economic or security problems is getting old. Its actually refreshing to hear that US money worked against an Israeli government....after decades of lobbying for money and support in the USA (and generally doing what it likes regardless of the consequence to US policy) a price is finally paid.

    Lets hope that similar US interests manage to do the same to Netanyahu before his government sucks us into conflict with Iran.

    May 5, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • Julian Assange

      Eventually Israel will, invariably, drag America into even another impossibly expensive and unnecessary war...
      Israel is more than willing to fight Iran till the last drop of blood from the last American soldier!

      May 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Reply
      • OldCactus

        If you had any sense of ethics you would hang your head in shame.

        May 5, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
      • Hans

        Never has an American soldier fought for Israel. Your allegations are nothing but LIES!!!

        May 6, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • observer

      your post is very cynical, beginning with, "regardless of what actually happened" - yes, who cares about the truth, being disstubed by a debate in search of it is too annoying to tolerate getting to the truth.

      "Its actually refreshing to hear that US money worked against an Israeli government" How is that refreshing? America Jews who have been duped into supporting a Zionist agenda, donate money and its used to destroy peace –exactly what the top leaders of Zionism want. No Peace.

      "Lets hope that similar US interests manage to do the same to Netanyahu...conflict with Iran." Actually, the top Zionism leaders WILL use all money available TO CREATE A CONFLICT IN IRAN..and THE USA WILL LEAD THE CHARGE.

      Your comments are shallow and ignorant, indeed, a unique American perspective. Israeli Jews towing a 50lb military pack on patrol would love to get their harnds on you and teach you a lesson.

      May 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  6. Yone71

    A moment of reality. Gaza follows the 67 line, yet that's where the majority of the rockets raining in on Israeli civilians is coming from. So for all of Olmert's boasting about his "peace plan", has he ever considered that he was the only party interested in peace ?! Say what you want about Hamas but you have to respect their honesty. They state openly that they will never recognize israel. They are not alone. So Olmert can stop blowing his own trumpet. He was sitting alone at that table as Israel, which has peace with 2 neighbors, is still doing.

    May 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • OldCactus

      What you say is true and if Israel does make a treaty with the Palestinians what you will have is the same thing you have now. Hamas will send rockets into Israel daily and occasionally Israel will get fed up with it and make an air strike on Gaza. All those anti-semites who post here will either totally ignore what is happening so they won't look to be so foolish or they will come up with some reason why it is Israel's fault..

      May 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      To have a chance for true cghane, we must take lesson from our past Our history proves we have a foundation of rebellious nature among other questionable behaviors. Let's not argue that but accept it! Now we have a rebellious president who refuses to do things based on the same old policies, procedures and political traditions. I have read the opinions and blogs of others on various website, I see a people afraid of the unknown Without rebellious people like OBAMA true leaders do not exists! If there were not rebellious people standing up for civil rights of woman and minorities than we would still be living in a world as backwards as some third world countries. Without people who are not afraid to admit that the old policies, procedures and practices of this nation are failing the people than progress will not be made. To break free from a failing system something completely new and different must take place and many will not understand the new at first.Obama's leadership style is democratic meaning internal drives and impulses that are centered on human relations and teamwork. He fosters communication that is open and usually two-way creates a spirit of collaboration and joint effort that result in staff satisfaction. I agree he does have some traits of permissive (laissez-faire) style, internal drives and impulses that tend to have some established policies; but abstains from complete leadership. What that tells me about President Obama is that he has enough humility and compassion for others to admit that being the President of the United States is not a ONE MAN JOB! Unless it is Jesus Christ himself than there is not a MAN capable, trustworthy or intelligent enough to handle that load! He is a leader who teaches us to work together. As humans we are all imperfect and until we all fully grasps that concept than many President Bush’s (prideful and self centered) will destroy this country. I wish people would stop judging and being so critical instead ask how they can help. We have a leader who does not mind gathering intelligent minds together so working towards the best possible solution can be achievable. Based on history the democrats do not have all the answers and nor do the Republicans, but given the opportunity to come together no one can come against us! Finally, remember another piece of American history: United we stand divided we fall. We use to be the leading nation in many aspects but now each side, each party and the American people have become so prideful and selfish that we are destroying the fabric that made us great. Yet, one day we will die but our children learning from our mistakes we continue in those mistakes only to destroy what little we have left behind. We cannot continue in the old way the new way must come even if it is uncomfortable at first.Jesus was a rebel in his day too, breaking the traditions of religious leaders and political powers of that time.

      July 9, 2012 at 2:07 am | Reply
  7. redwood509

    It may be true, bit the ill-informed, naive reporter, forgets to explain that if this story is true, the American cash helped Israel rid itself from the most devious and corrupt politician in its history. Few Israelis doubt that Olmert is a graft taking, corrupt politicna who will soon join the disgraced President Katazav in Maasiyahoo Prison, a blue collar light security "Pison" where people like Olmert and members of the Shas and Kadima party languish until they get out and begin with a media campaign to rehabilitate their diminished public profile. Olmert's office manager has been convicted, some of his buddies are in the process of coming to term with a conviction and what sentencing the state will demand from the court, but he is likely to do time. he is one rotten politician, in like his father and his father's colleagues, all men of honor, Olmert is a disgrace! If CNN was not so eager to paint Israel in such bad light, he would not get a pass with the mind numbing questioning by a reporter who began her career in N,Y City covering the Oliver Tembo (S. Africa's ANC Supremo, homage by N.Y Leftists to the "Liberation" leader in exile) reception the Riverside Church on the upper West side where she behaved like a hysterical, apoplectic teen, spiting, jumping, screaming – a pure neurotic. woman who never recovered. She was a total disaster at ABC where they had to put her out of her misery, having performed so poorly, so there she goes for the cheap line, get one zinger from a future convict, not dealing with the real issue and threats facing the country. This shallow take explains so well why CNN 's rating is in the toilet, a network made of air-heads, dilettantes and politically biased phonies parading as "journalist".

    May 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  8. Julian Assange

    The FACT is that there is NO INTEREST whatsoever in any kind of peace that included the return of any peace of STOLEN land back to the Palestinian owners. In fact the interest is the continuation of the IMMORAL land grabbing strategy till Israel reach it 'promised land" biblical proportions. Any two states solution, whatever it is, will make this Jew dream impossible to achieve without an official war against an official UN member state. All iSSrael wants is to keep the as it is and grab as much land as they can to achieve their "biblical promised land". LAND THIEVES!

    May 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
    • Hank

      So WELL SAID! Ever;yone knows it, and lets the travesty to go on, and on, and on....

      May 19, 2012 at 4:52 am | Reply
  9. Mike G

    Good for Olmert for speaking out. Much as the right-wing Israeli lobby arm-twists and blackmails America, so does the right-wing American lobby kill off left-wing/moderate and peaceful interests in Israel. This uber right-wing collaboration is part of the neocon system that is hurting both countries for the sake of MIC company financial gains on the back of military adventurism, hate and perpetual war.

    So please Mr. Olmert, let's have those names.

    May 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  10. Zoglet

    So now we here from withing Israels inner circle about the corrupting effect of the US. We are learnng that lobby groups in the US are having a negative impact in overseas countries that runs counter to the USG's own stated position.
    THere is no question that the US needs to reign in its lobby groups and pass laws to prevent medling in other countires political systems. Its entirely possibly- but is the will there?
    If not, this mess will contiinue and the US will lose more and more crediblity internationally.

    May 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Reply
  11. coco

    Why didn't Olmert say Sheldon Adelson ?

    May 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Reply
    • Sruthy

      Hi Eliesheva! I was wondering if you could help me out! I am a sieonr at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and only have 3 more months left of school! I am looking for something to do next year or the next two years, and I feel very passionately about going back to Israel and working with refugees. Last year I took 6 months off from school and studied at Ben Gurion University, worked a bit for the Hotline for Migrant Workers and a local soup kitchen in Be'er Sheva. Working for the hotline truly roused my passion for the situation in Darfur and the refugee crisis in Israel. Do you know of any organization I can be a fulltime worker for? I would love to volunteer, but unfortunately, I need to be making a bit of money right now. Do you know of any organization that would allow me to recieve a stipend, or free housing, anything? I am almost fluent in hebrew, and have taken arabic for 6 months! I hope you can help! I love your blog! It is so empowering and motivating!b'karov,Michele

      July 9, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
  12. aurelius

    What killed Olmert peace plan is Israel's intransigeance.

    May 5, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Reply
    • Claira

      Ema, I know you live in fantasy land, being a lebaril and all, but the only course of action that will work for Israel is to have defensible borders. The surrounding Muslims will never accept Israel nor give up their desire to overrun Israel and kill or subjugate all of the Jews. All pretended concessions that the Muslims may presently accept are merely stratagems towards that end. They can never be trusted - ever hear of "taquiya"? No, it's not Mexican booze with a worm in the bottle.Barack Obama is a complete fool and couldn't care less if the Israelis survive or not. You see, Islam, like lebarilism, is a form of madness; in the former case, a form of homicidal lunacy.

      July 7, 2012 at 4:08 am | Reply
  13. leubitz

    Conspiracy theory.. A guy gets booted for corruption then says some unnamed people forced him out. Are we to believe the boogyman was responsible for the derailing of peace? or are we to believe that the arabs have yet to say YES to any proposal? When you negotiate you dont keep repeating your same demands,you alter and give and take..some painful. The arabs have yet to negotiate with right of return and secure israel borders.. not an inch of movement, where as israel has drawn borders in the form of a fence border. Olmert is upset that his name will forever be associated with corruption.

    May 5, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
    • Cel

      I think the President has done the best job that can be expected in times such as these. Let's not fogert that he assumed office amid the worst economic situation since the Great Depression. No one can dispute that. Since then, he has worked to keep the economy afloat, and that effort has been mostly successful. However, it can't be done without creating some kind of economic activity. Government spending is the natural way to do this, and several leading economists support this method.With regard to foreign policy, the President has worked to restore the image of America and re-establish our relationships around the world. This starts with respecting the sovereignty of all nations and recognizing that we all benefit from improved relations abroad. Amidst two wars, one of which was not necessary, the President has shown great strength and leadership in addressing the needs of our military. As a result, they are winning on these fronts and have a clear mission.Domestically, Pres. Obama has worked toward implementing the most significant health care legislation in over 40 years. The reason it has taken so long is because it is a controversial issue with wide-ranging opinions. When you get to the bottom of the legislation, however, it is not the vilified, death-panel-creating bill that is commonly advertised. Considering the continuum of international health systems ranging from socialistic government-employed health workers to the market oriented system of fully private health insurance, this bill is solidly in the middle. Important medical decisions are made between a patient and his/her physician, and those who make less than 400% of poverty will receive assistance to purchase a private, non-government health insurance policy.With elections coming up this November, it is likely that the power of Congress will shift in some way. It is unknown whether or not it results in a complete shift of majority. What I can say is that I hope for new party leadership on both sides of the aisle that focuses on solving problems together and acts in the common interest of all Americans. I believe that opinions will differ and debate will take place; however, I think the tone of this Congress' leadership has become far too distasteful, and that is part of the reason for America's frustration with Washington.

      July 9, 2012 at 2:08 am | Reply
  14. FMS

    I have no way of knowing about Olmert's guilt, victimization, or lack of it, but it is refreshing to see an eminent Israeli saying what he is saying. Add to his voice that of Ami Ayalon, former Navy commander-in-chief and head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, who has called for Israeli settlers to leave the West Bank.

    Maybe there is a "Blue White Future" after all (

    If Palestinians and Israelis could share Jerusalem as a dual capital of both nations or as an international city, that would be wonderful, but apparently they cannot. A split of that city, with appropriate guarantees and effective enforcement, may be the only way. It should be possible for the security of religious sites in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank to be guaranteed - and enforced.

    Of course it is possible that any peace agreement could be a Trojan horse against Israel, but the time for Israel to gamble is now - while its military superiority is unquestioned. Let Israel demonstrate to the world its own sincerity in finding a just peace, and if it collapses let it be the fault of Arab Muslim fanaticism, not Israeli intransigence.

    I agree with other commentators here that the fundamentalist/Biblical/extreme/militant wing of Zionism has no interest in a two-state solution, and is simply trying to incrementally annex all of ancient Biblical Judaea and Samaria. Nothing crazy about that, right? Let's all turn the clock back 2000 years! Perhaps as a first step the Celts should drive all the Anglo-Saxons, Danes and Normans out of England! It was taken from them by force, after all...

    Meanwhile the USA - pitful, helpless giant that it is - continues to write blank checks for whatever Israeli policy is the flavor of the moment.

    Oops, I forgot: It's an election year and no dissent by U.S. politicians will be tolerated!

    May 23, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
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