The former Israeli Prime Minister has described the Palestinian leader as a "partner for peace".
Ehud Olmert, who resigned from his position in 2009 amid allegations of corruption, dismissed claims that Israel had no partner for negotiations. However he said that all options should be considered for dealing with the Iranian threat.
Addressing the left-wing J Street gala dinner in Washington DC, Mr Olmert expressed his belief that "Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] wants peace with Israel.
"It may not be the same peace we want, but that's why we negotiate."
He added that "no one should relieve the Palestinians from their responsibilities".
He also went into more detail about the peace plan he pushed while in office, arguing that nobody should have sovereignty over Temple Mount.
"For a Jew to offer this is possible only if you reach an inevitable conclusion that to secure an independent democratic Jewish state," he said. "You have to make this conclusion."