Olmert offered Abbas East Jerusalem, to evacuate 60,000 settlers

January 29th, 2009 - 6:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaTel Aviv, Jan 29 (DPA) Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to transfer the Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty and evacuate some 60,000 Jewish settlers from the West Bank, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.According to Yediot Ahronot, Olmert detailed the concessions he offered to Abbas to US President Barack Obama’s newly appointed envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.

Mitchell, due to meet Abbas in Ramallah Thursday, is on his first trip to the region since his appointment last week. He met Olmert over lunch Wednesday.

The daily said Olmert also offered Abbas to withdraw from most of the occupied territories along the lines of before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in which Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Some changes would be made to those lines that would allow Israel to annex its main Jewish settlement blocks in the West Bank.

But Israel would compensate for the lost land by handing over territory in the south of the country to Palestinian sovereignty on a one-on-one basis, Yediot said.

Asked why these offers failed to materialize into a peace agreement during the past year of negotiations, Olmert blamed Abbas and Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia, saying they froze contact as soon as it became clear Israel was heading to elections and refused to sign a document inking what had been agreed thus far.

The daily gave no source and the article appeared to be based on a leak from a participant in the Olmert-Mitchell meeting of Wednesday.

Olmert’s spokesman, Mark Regev, would neither confirm nor deny the report.

“I can only refer you to the speech the prime minister gave publicly at the (late prime minister Yitzhak) Rabin commemoration,” he told DPA.

In that November speech, Olmert called for concessions similar to the ones which according to the Yediot report he in fact made to Abbas.

“The prime minister has been flexible and creative” since Abbas and Olmert revived long-stalled peace negotiations at a summit in Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2007.

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