1. Ehud Olmert, the former Israeli prime minister, writes in The Times today:
The parameters of a peace deal are well known and they have already been put on the table. I put them there in September 2008 when I presented a far-reaching offer to Mr. Abbas. According to my offer, the territorial dispute would be solved by establishing a Palestinian state on territory equivalent in size to the pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza Strip with mutually agreed-upon land swaps that take into account the new realities on the ground.
The city of Jerusalem would be shared. Its Jewish areas would be the capital of Israel and its Arab neighborhoods would become the Palestinian capital. Neither side would declare sovereignty over the city's holy places; they would be administered jointly with the assistance of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The Palestinian refugee problem would be addressed within the framework of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. The new Palestinian state would become the home of all the Palestinian refugees just as the state of Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people. Israel would, however, be prepared to absorb a small number of refugees on humanitarian grounds.
Because ensuring Israel's security is vital to the implementation of any agreement, the Palestinian state would be demilitarized and it would not form military alliances with other nations. Both states would cooperate to fight terrorism and violence.
These parameters were never formally rejected by Mr. Abbas, and they should be put on the table again today. Both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu must then make brave and difficult decisions. (italics mine)
Perhaps the Security Council should ask Mr. Abbas his position on the Olmert offer, and why he never responded to it in some definitive way, before it weighs his request for symbolic statehood.
2. Abbas's UN ploy is an entirely symbolic exercise ("liberation theater," let's call it) in part because Israel will only withdraw from Palestinian territory as the result of a negotiated deal (and its tendency in moments like these is to hunker down), but in even larger part because Mahmoud Abbas doesn't control a large chunk of the territory he wishes to rule, namely Gaza, which is ruled by his rival, Hamas. It would seem to be prerequisite, when seeking recognition as an independent state, that there be one, and not two, governments prepared to rule this independent state.