Olmert make’s offer – PA has refused it

By Aluf Benn, Haaretz

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has presented Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a detailed proposal for an agreement in principle on borders, refugees and security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Olmert, who met with Abbas this week, feels there is time to reach an agreement during his remaining time in office. He is now awaiting a decision from the Palestinians.

Ted Belman
Why must he offer “every inch”?
Why is he not demanding defensible borders as is Israel’s right>
Why is he not demanding a penalty for the aggression, say at least 20% of J & S?
Does Maaleh Adumin include all of E1?
Why is Olmert offering more than Barak at did Camp David?
Why is he not demanding more land east of Ben Gurion Airport?

The centerpiece of Olmert’s 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Compared to previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the Olmert proposal falls between the one then prime minister Barak presented to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000 and the one he offered at Taba in January 2001. The Palestinian proposal is similar to the ones offered during the Arafat years, which would have allowed Israel to annex only a few settlements, along with their access roads – a proposal nicknamed “balloons and strings.” All these Palestinian proposals ruled out allowing Israel to retain the settlement blocs.

Since then, however, the separation fence has been built in the West Bank, and a new physical reality has been created in the areas where the fence has been completed.

Israel also presented the Palestinians with a detailed model of new security arrangements under the proposed agreement. The security proposal was drawn up by a team headed by Maj. Gen. Ido Nehoshtan, now commander of the Israel Air Force, but previously head of the army’s Plans and Policy Directorate. The proposal has also been passed on to the Americans, in an effort to obtain their support for Israel’s position during the negotiations.

The security proposal includes a demand that the Palestinian state be demilitarized and without an army. The Palestinians, in contrast, are demanding that their security forces be capable of defending against “outside threats,” an Israeli official said.

On the refugee issue, Olmert’s proposal rejects a Palestinian “right of return” and states that the refugees may only return to the Palestinian state, other than exceptional cases in which refugees would be allowed into Israel for family reunification. Nevertheless, the proposal includes a detailed and complex formula for solving the refugee problem.

Olmert has agreed with Abbas that the negotiations over Jerusalem will be postponed. In doing so, he gave in to the Shas Party’s threats that it would leave the coalition if Jerusalem were put on the negotiating table.

Olmert views reaching an agreement with the Palestinians as extremely important. Such an agreement would entrench the two-state solution in the international community’s consciousness, along with a detailed framework for achieving this solution. In Olmert’s opinion, this is the only way Israel can rebuff challenges to its legitimacy and avoid calls for a “one-state solution.” Such an agreement would show that Israel is not interested in controlling the territories, or the Palestinians, over the long run, but only until conditions arise that enable the establishment of a Palestinian state. This position has received strong support from the present U.S. administration.

Next week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the region to continue her efforts to advance the negotiations. However, Olmert opposes her proposal to publish a joint U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli announcement detailing progress in the negotiations since Annapolis. Olmert objects to publishing partial positions; he only wants to announce a complete agreement – if one can be reached.

August 12, 2008 | 10 Comments »

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  1. Fistel, there is another option and that is they are all corrupt and on the take. Check out their bank accts and level of living. All have made lifetime careers in some form of public service and the military. Someone better explain to me how all are multi millionaires livings like potentates on and off government pay and allowances. Government pays a decent salary with good perks but they do have tax deductions and even a Prime Minister makes gross 10000 dollars a month and after deductions maybe half take home. so how do they all get to be millionaires and live in multimillionaire style?

  2. Now hold this thought: The world according to Olmert, Livni, and Barak (and Bush and Rice) (and Obama and McCain?) (and Netanyahu?)

    1. The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon resulted in the takeover of Lebanon by Hizbollah and the final destruction of Christian Lebanon, the last Christian state in the Middle East, leaving Israel as the only remaining non-Muslim state. Muslim Lebanon now sits poised, ready to let fly 40,000 missiles at Israel whenever it decides to do so.

    2. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza led to a Hamas takeover. Hamas now has 20,000 missiles aimed at Israel and routinely bombards Israel whenever it is in the mood.

    3. So now Israel believes that a withdrawal from the West Bank will lead to…peace and the acceptance of Jewish Israel as the only non-Muslim State in the Muslim Middle East!

    You know, I look at this and think I’m reading Alice in Wonderland while on LSD (Note: If I actually did this a long time ago when in college, then, like Ronald Reagan, I just don’t remember.)

    So the only thing I can conclude is that: This is it. Darwin has spoken from the grave and Israel has degenerated to such a point that it is simply too stupid to survive.

    (Alternate theory for conspiracy buffs: An Arab scientist has developed a virus that infects the brains of Israeli politicians so that their IQ drops and they cannot think clearly.)

  3. Shalom Shmuel.

    I agree with you. It looks as though you would prefer Lieberman to Olmert concerning Um al Fahm. It also seems you are optimistic about the proposed extent of expulsion of the Jews.

    I would go further, saying the whole idea of a “Palestinian state” west of Jordan is unworkable. It puts not only Ben Gurion Airport, but every Israeli civilian center and military facility within easy reach of even crude Arab munitions; not to mention that it gives away Israel’s main aquifer in a time when water is becoming as valuable as oil. Also, allowing Arabs to pour into the new “state” by the millions, besides creating a humanitarian crisis that Israel will no doubt get blamed for, would create a demographic problem where there is none. Israel would come out in a much worse state than it is now, in every area: security, demography, international standing and the economy. What foolishness!

    Baruch Hashem, that the Arabs keep refusing this madness.

    Shalom shalom 🙂

  4. It is arrogance or insanity that compels Olmert to make one last gasp effort to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians before his term is out in a few months.

    I would expect great objection from those vying for leadership, whose own positions on a peace deal would be undermined if the Palestinians agreed to Olmert’s offer or agreed in part.

    Even if the Palestinians do not agree to a complete deal, we have seen before that the Palestinians expect negotiations to begin where the last offer ended. Israel for its part, has pretty much played into the Palestinian hands by accepting that Palestinian style of negotiation.

    So why have the opposition members not been able to muzzle Olmert, especially on this very critical issue?

  5. The settler population and the fence:

    A routine internet engine search (I have no secret sources) gives the rough division of settlers with respect to the fence.
    Here are some figures provided from HaAretz:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/894379.html

    The figure of 200,000 Jews to the west of the fence who will definitely be included in Israel seems accurate. I have no idea if the figure of 70,000 Jews east of the fence includes Maale Adumim and Ariel or not. Those two settlements alone contain about 50,000 Jews. If they are included in the settler population numbers to be retained by Israel, the number of Jews living in the small West Bank settlements that Olmert and company will forcibly evacuate becomes on the order of 20-30,000.

    Since Olmert successfully forcibly evacuated 9,000 Jews from Gaza, he may feel that 30,000 is also within his reach. And I surmise that if he could get away with it, he would withdraw the Israeli Army protection of those small scattered settlements and leave them isolated and surrounded by savage bloodthirsty Palestinians.

  6. Trojan Horse from the Israeli Left:

    1. This peace proposal was made by Olmert, negotiated by Livni, and approved by Barak.
    2. To make it seem “reasonable” to the average Israeli, Israel gets to keep 200,000 Jews west of the security fence, and incorporates 5% of the West Bank into Israel, and formally negates the palestinian right of return.
    3. In return for no right of return, Israel will forcibly cleanse the West Bank of 70,000 Jews, leaving the West Bank completely Judenrein.
    4. At the same time, Israel will keep the Palestinian city of Um al Fahm within Israel. Um al Fahm is on the border with Palestine, and contains a half million Jew-hating Arab Muslims, all of whom are receiving Israeli welfare benefits. The Israeli left demands their presence to show the goyim what nice guys the Israeli leftists are.
    5. Israel will voluntarily divide itself in half, allowing Hamas (and all other jihadis) unrestricted entry into Gaza, and free passage from Gaza to the West Bank.
    6. Israel will “demand” a supposedly demilitarized Palestinian state.

    What a joke, and what a prescription for national suicide.

  7. The Media Line reports

    ‘Abbas adviser and spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told The Media Line that the plan is not new and that the impression that it was just now submitted by Olmert to ‘Abbas is misleading. He said it’s been on the table for several weeks. Abu Rudeina said the plan remains unacceptable to the Palestinians, citing what he claims are Israeli deviations in issues already agreed upon within the context of the Road Map peace plan and Annapolis understandings. These include the need for parity in “size and quality” in any land swap and a return to the pre-1967 borders.

    Abu Rudeina charged that re-asserting the Olmert plan at this time “shows that Israel is still not serious about the peace process.” Analysts at The Media Line caution that rather than focusing on point-counterpoint between the sides, notice two events should be viewed in concert: the Olmert plan’s re-assertion immediately after Palestinian Chief Negotiator Ahmad Qurei’s weekend threat that the Palestinians would shift position and call for a one-state solution if Israel doesn’t cooperate. Analysts suggest there is more coordination than is at first apparent.