Former Israel prime minister Ehud Olmert sharply criticized the Obama administration for insisting on a complete halt to housing on the West Bank. Although he agrees the construction of this housing “commands the agenda between the United States and Israel,” he regards it as a mistake because it is “impossible to completely enforce” and will only embitter the situation within Israel and between his country and the United States. He believes Palestinian needs to create an effective government and provide security have no connection to the issue of West Bank housing. Olmert also blamed Palestinian leaders for rejecting his proposal a year ago which dealt with many of their concerns.
Olmert is absolutely correct that Palestinian leaders have lacked a sense of vision and been unable to take risks in order to achieve peace. However, no Palestinian leader today can enter negotiations with Israel if they must accept West Bank settlements as they currently exist. Barack Obama is correct housing must cease and the Israel government has to become realistic of their chance to retain only a small portion of the West Bank. What could have happened last year or ten years ago has no relevance to what must occur today.