'Palestinians': Olmert offer of 98.5% a 'waste of time'Haaretz reported Tuesday morning that in a desperate attempt to
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday rejected an Israeli peace proposal, which included withdrawal from 93 percent of the West Bank, because it does not provide for a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.The offer Olmert made was astounding.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas's spokesman, told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan showed a "lack of seriousness."
Under the proposal, Israel would return to the Palestinians 93 percent of the West Bank, plus all of the Gaza Strip, when the Palestinian Authority regains control over the Gaza Strip, which the militant group Hamas seized from forces loyal to Abbas in June 2006.
"The Israeli proposal is not acceptable," Abbas's spokesman said. "The Palestinian side will only accept a Palestinian state with territorial continuity, with holy Jerusalem as its capital, without settlements, and on the June 4, 1967 boundaries."
He called the Israeli proposal a "waste of time."
The centerpiece of Olmert's detailed proposal is the suggested permanent border, which would be based on an Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank. In return for the land retained by Israel in the West Bank, the Palestinians would receive alternative land in the Negev, adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians would also enjoy free passage between Gaza and the West Bank without any security checks, the proposal says. [How many Israelis would die in terror attacks just because of that provision? CiJ]Haaretz notes that Olmert's offer is more than Ehud Barak offered at Camp David, but still less than what Barak offered at Taba. Still, it's fair to say that Olmert's ridiculously generous offer pretends that there weren't 1000 Jews murdered by 'Palestinians' between 2000-06. And still, the 'Palestinians' said no.
A senior Israeli official said the Palestinians were given preliminary maps of the proposed borders.
Under Olmert's offer, Israel would keep 7 percent of the West Bank, while the Palestinians would receive territory equivalent to 5.5 percent of West Bank. Israel views the passage between Gaza and the West Bank as compensating for this difference: Though it would officially remain in Israeli hands, it would connect the two halves of the Palestinian state - a connection the Palestinians did not enjoy before 1967, when the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control and the West Bank was part of Jordan. [Because there's no such thing as 'Palestine.' There never was a 'Palestinian' state. CiJ].
The land to be annexed to Israel would include the large settlement blocs, and the border would be similar to the present route of the separation fence. Israel would keep Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion, the settlements surrounding Jerusalem and some land in the northern West Bank adjacent to Israel.
Since Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently approved more construction in both Efrat and Ariel, two settlements relatively far from the 1949 armistice lines, it is reasonable to assume that Olmert wants to include these settlements in the territory annexed to Israel as well.
Olmert's proposal states that once a border is agreed upon, Israel would be able to build freely in the settlement blocs to be annexed.
The settlements outside the new border would be evacuated in two stages. First, after the agreement in principle is signed, the cabinet would initiate legislation to compensate settlers who voluntarily relocate within Israel or to settlement blocs slated to be annexed. Over the past few months, Olmert has approved construction of thousands of housing units in these settlement blocs, mostly around Jerusalem, and some are intended for the voluntary evacuees. [Why don't we give them to the Jews expelled from Gush Katif instead and let the Jews in Judea and Samaria stay in their homes? CiJ]
In the second stage, once the Palestinians complete a series of internal reforms and are capable of carrying out the entire agreement, Israel would remove any settlers remaining east of the new border. [And make the place Judenrein. CiJ]
Olmert will to try to sell the deal to the Israeli public based on a staged program of implementation. The present negotiations, which started with the Annapolis Summit in November 2007, are intended to reach a "shelf agreement" that would lay the foundations of a Palestinian state. However, implementation of the shelf agreement would be postponed until the Palestinian Authority is capable of carrying out its part of the deal.
Olmert's proposal for a land swap introduces a new stage in the arrangement: Israel would immediately receive the settlement blocs, but the land to be transferred to the Palestinians and the free passage between Gaza and the West Bank would only be delivered after the PA retakes control of the Gaza Strip. In this way, Olmert could tell the Israeli public that Israel is receiving 7 percent of the West Bank and an agreed-upon border, while the Israeli concessions will be postponed until Hamas rule in Gaza has ended.
Abbas, for his part, could tell his people that he has succeeded in obtaining 98 percent of the West Bank from Israel, along with a promise to remove all settlers over the border.
The Palestinians' proposal had talked about a much smaller land swap, of about 2 percent of the West Bank.
Why is Olmert doing this? Aside from wanting a legacy that doesn't involve him stealing money, I believe that Olmert is trying to ensure the defeat of his arch-enemy, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in the Kadima primary next month. There have been several references in the media to Olmert pushing for a written document that outlines the agreements reached between Israel and the 'Palestinians' and to Livni trying to avoid such a document because it would hurt her position with many Kadima voters. I believe that what Olmert 'proposed' on Tuesday is actually a summary of the 'agreements' that have been reached with the 'Palestinians.' Except that he left out Jerusalem and he left out the details of the agreement regarding the 'refugees.' Had he included the agreements about Jerusalem, Shas might have been forced to leave his government. And had he included the agreements about the 'refugees' much of his own party may have quit in disgust.
But the 'Palestinians' won't agree to anything that does not include Jerusalem and the 'refugees.' So they rejected this offer too.