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Olmert offers PA 98.1% of W. Bank

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has discussed with the Palestinians transferring to them 98.1 percent of the West Bank, Channel 2 reported on Sunday evening.

The report on the ongoing negotiations was broadcast in advance of Tuesday's planned meeting between Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on the news item and said only that many such media reports had been published in the last months regarding the talks.

Earlier in the day, during what could be his last cabinet meeting before he becomes the head of a transitional government, Olmert addressed Israel's relationship to the West Bank when he spoke of a voluntary evacuation bill to help relocate settlers living east of the security barrier.

"The vision of a greater Israel no longer exists. Those who speak of it are delusional," the prime minister said. No vote was taken on the measure.

According to Channel 2, however, Olmert is considering concessions far beyond land east of the barrier and could transfer 98.1% of the West Bank to the PA. That is significantly more than the 94% to 96% that had been discussed in previous negotiations.

The report states that Abbas has asked that Israel cede the Jerusalem area settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim and Givat Ze'ev, but is willing to negotiate the status of the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and French Hill, which are over the Green Line.

In the past the Palestinians have demanded that Israel fully withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, including from eastern Jerusalem. Israel has insisted it plans to keep the larger settlements blocs including Ma'aleh Adumim and Givat Ze'ev as well as the Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

The future of Jerusalem, according to Channel 2, was being negotiated between Olmert and Abbas, and not by the team led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Olmert has also agreed that 5,000 Palestinian refugees would return to Israel - a thousand refugees every year for five years, according to the report.

Abbas allegedly rejected the proposal and was demanding the return of many more refugees.

According to the report, the Palestinians were also interested in access not only to the Dead Sea but also to the Kinneret, as they claimed they deserved some rights over the water flowing into the lake because the Jordan River runs through Palestinian territory.

Also Sunday, Olmert met with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, a former Middle East envoy for the European Union.

The two men spoke of the two-state solution and Olmert's voluntary evacuation plan.

Despite the Channel 2 report, both Abbas in an interview with Haaretz over the weekend, and Vice Premier Haim Ramon in briefing reporters on Sunday, expressed skepticism as to the success of the negotiations.

Ramon said he was not optimistic that a final-status agreement would be reached, "not at the end of this year and not at the end of next year."

But what was clear, he said, was that in the future, "settlements east of the barrier won't be under Israeli sovereignty."

There was no reason why those settlers who understood that the barrier represented a future border should have to wait five or 10 years to be evacuated, Ramon said.

At Sunday's cabinet meeting, he proposed a voluntary evacuation bill that would offer property owners in the 72 settlements outside of the barrier an average of $300,000 or NIS 1.1 million for their homes.

Those homes would then be sealed or destroyed so they could not be reused by other settlers, Ramon said.

His bill, which has the support of Labor but not Kadima or Shas, is an outgrowth of an earlier proposal by MK Colette Avital (Labor) and MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), who three years ago formed the group One House to advocate for such a bill.

According to Ramon, there are an estimated 61,808 settlers living outside of the barrier, out of whom 11,000, or 18%, would accept such an offer.

Such a measure, Ramon said, would help those settlers who did not enjoy the same security offered Israelis living inside the barrier and would also be seen by the Palestinians as a sign of good faith toward the negotiations.

Ramon's proposal was immediately objected to by the four candidates competing in Wednesday's primary for the Kadima leadership.

If the government wanted to make a gesture toward the Palestinians that involved territory, it should evacuate the unauthorized outposts, said Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit. That was particularly true, he said, given that it had already promised the international community that it would do so.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned that the Palestinians would view the measure as a unilateral step. She added that Israel should not take steps to determine a border while it was in the midst of negotiating one with the Palestinians.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said that such a law would embolden the Palestinians to increase their demands.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said the proposal would be impossible to implement. More to the point, it would make any future evacuations harder to carry out because the net effect of the bill would be to replace less ideological settlers with more determined ones.

In defense of his proposal, Ramon told reporters that the borders under negotiations with the Palestinians were already well known.

Livni, he said, could only wish that the barrier would in fact be the final border. With respect to Dichter, Ramon said that implementation should not be an issue in considering legislation.

He added that he believed the bill could be implemented and that if fewer settlers lived in those 72 communities, they would be easier both to defend and eventually to evacuate.

Settlers have attacked the plan and have pledged to outbid the government by offering those who want to leave more money.

In Samaria, where a new citizens' protest movement has already started, its leader, former Samaria Regional Council head Benny Katzover, said they were collecting signatures of residents who had pledged not to leave.

The regional council had received many calls from people who wanted to move there to protest against the Ramon bill, he said.

Speaking in defense of the voluntary evacuation bill at the cabinet meeting, Olmert said that for the 40 years since it acquired the West Bank during the Six Day War, Israel had been making excuses as to why it could not do anything.

This, he said, did not help Israel. It was important Israel showed it had taken initiative in the peace process.

"We have to advance the voluntary evacuation compensation bill and to bring it to the cabinet [for a vote]," the prime minister said.

Olmert said he had not always supported territorial concessions and that he had initially felt that then-prime minister Ehud Barak had offered the Palestinians too much at Camp David in 2000. "I thought that the land between the Jordan River and the sea was ours," he said.

In the end, he said he came to the conclusion that we had to reach an agreement with the Palestinians if we did not want to see Israel become a binational state.

There was no time to waste, Olmert said. adding: "We can argue about every small detail and find that when we are ready for an agreement there is no partner and no international support."

In the not too distant future, there would come a day when "we will want those same solutions that we are rejecting today," he said.

Israel had to reach a final peace agreement with the Palestinians and the Syrians. If this happened, then relations with other Arab nations would follow suit, he said.


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Added: Sep-15-2008 
By: Guvnor
In:
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Tags: west bank, israel, palestine, fatah, settlers, zionsim
Location: Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, Israel (load item map)
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  • I'm so glad I don't live in either of those places. No matter how much you give or how much you take, there is always going to be bitching and wars. You can give the palestinians 100% full rights to everything they requested for jerusalem... but you still will have those extremists who will blow shit up and shoot rockets... which will cause israel to create a new buffer, taking pa land again.

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • The problem is, they keep handing back land to the Palestinians, who then use that land to launch more rockets, so the IDF has to go and retake that land back to secure it. And thus the cycle continues.

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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    • They don't have the balls to enter Gaza again.

      And their have been NO rockets launched from the West Bank, yet Israel keeps on building settlements, the barrier, and oppressing the Palestinians in their own land

      AND ISRAEL NEVER GAVE BACK GAZA, THEY STILL CONTROL AIR, SEA, AND BORDERS. THAT IS NOT A WITHDRAWL SO FUCK OFF!

      Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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    • thanks for be able to look at the reall picture of the situation...

      the history of the past 15 years shows us that the pales. could have got their own free state years ago!!
      much of the current situation is also due to their descisions.

      Posted Sep-16-2008 By 

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    • "Fuck off", thats mature. Especially from someone spouting off without ANY knowledge of the situation.

      Posted Sep-16-2008 By 

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    • Not to mention... since the Palestinians were given the chance to form a government and rule themselves, they've proven unable and unwilling to do so in a civilized manner. Tribal infighting, stealing money, failure to maintain basic infrastructure, etc..., all the while Israel actually providing humanitarian aid, power, electricity, etc...

      The Palestinians are animals, and the world should be ashamed for falling for the same antisemetic propaganda over and over. If this was any other part of More..

      Posted Sep-16-2008 By 

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  • If its true, I say take it too.

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • Seems like Olmert actually wants peace. He is offering settlers over 1 million shekels to relocate to Israel:

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=828_1221416677

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • Olmert: "I thought that land from the Jordan River through to the sea was all ours, but ultimately, after a long and tortured process, I arrived at the conclusion that we must share with those we live with, if we don't want to be a bi-national state."

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • It's good that Israel is doing this, but if they were serious about peace, they would abide completely by the various U.N. resolutions. This seems to me ,that Olmert is trying to take the focus off his incompetent leadership and his corruption charges.

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • What you all fail to recognize is that there is no palestine and never will be unless you can get more than two arabs to agree to something, which is an impossibility because of their nature and religion.
    Thus the cycle continues.
    Take it while it's on the table, or go piss in a bucket.
    98.1 is not enough for them, they want all of Israel, so it will never end, when will you realize this.
    You have watched it your whole life and still don't get it.
    The world is not enough for arabs, nothing is.

    Posted Sep-16-2008 By 

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  • Sweet I live in Pa.

    Posted Sep-17-2008 By 

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  • OLMERT IS A TRAITOR!
    What he is doing is illegal and punishable by Israeli law with long imprisonment or death!
    No land can be ceded without a public referendum. Thats the law!

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • "Olmert has also agreed that 5,000 Palestinian refugees would return to Israel - a thousand refugees every year for five years, according to the report"

    5,000 is nothing. 10s of millions of Palestinians live abroad and deserve to live in our ancestral land.

    This proposal also stipulates that Palestine would be forced to have NO ARMY = DEFENCELESS.

    Fair proposal my ASS!!

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • ....of WHAT IS LEFT of the west bank. The Israelis have already taken a huge amount of it...so its really just a bitch slap, as usual.

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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  • Good offer, given Israel's behaviour lately. But what is wrong with 100%? The west bank is a negotiated area anyhow and only a part of Palestine. Why do the Palestinians have to renegotiate what already has been negotiated and mediated by the UN? Why should they have to give up more than they were told to give up in 1947?

    Look at how Palestine land was chopped up in 1947 by the UN resolution 181

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Partition_Plan_for_Palestine

    Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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    • No chance for first UN partition plan borders.

      Everyone except the extremists on BOTH sides agree on the 67 borders.

      Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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    • Exactly why the Pali's will spit in his eye. 98% isnt enough! I can hear hamas now... "We will keep up the fight. Our Brothers and Sisters are Martyrs in this fight"! "We will not rest until the blood from every Jew runs into the sea" Besides, Nasralla needs a conflict to stay in power and to rally other Arabs around the Pali cause. There will be no settlement. Pali, please!

      Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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    • Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal on Monday said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along Israel's pre-1967 borders, and would grant Israel a 10-year hudna, or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from those areas.

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/976662.html

      Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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    • Yeah, what they say and do are quite often 2 diff. things. I guess we'll see.

      Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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    • Remember its not the Palestinians that are stealing land and building Jewish only settlements.

      Posted Sep-15-2008 By 

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