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Tuesday May 18, 2010 10:54 AM (EST+7)
Report: Abbas rejected Olmert peace plan over refugees, safe passage

Read more: Mahmoud Abbas, Haim Ramon, peace process, negotiations, final status

RAMALLAH, May 18 (JMCC) - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected a peace proposal of the Olmert administration over the issue of the number of refugees to be allowed to return and Palestinian control over a safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, former Olmert aide Haim Ramon told a conference Monday.

...Haim Ramon, who served as deputy premier under Ehud Olmert and was one of his trusted confidants, said on Monday at the Institute for National Security Studies conference that the Palestinians turned down Olmert’s offer in 2008 because of disagreements regarding the number of refugees to be allowed into Israel, and because of a Palestinian demand to control the “safe passage” that would have linked the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

At the end of 2008, Olmert offered Abbas 93.5-to-93.7 percent of the West Bank, a one-to-one swap for most of the rest, and an arrangement whereby no one would have sovereignty over the “holy basin” surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City, but rather it would be administered by a consortium made up of the Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Saudis and Americans.

Ramon revealed that in August 2008, he went to Amman to discuss the refuge issue with Abbas. “We wanted to permit a certain number of refugees into the country over a number of years, and they wanted a different number,” Ramon said.

Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin had a far different take on why the Palestinians rejected Olmert’s offer, as well as that of then-prime minister Ehud Barak in 2000.

The Palestinian rejection of both offers, he said, had to do with “the refusal of the Palestinians to understand that Judaism, beyond just being a religion, is also a nationality. Their refusal to recognize this [Israel] as a Jewish state, like their refusal to recognize that the Temple stood on Mount Moriah, expresses their refusal to accept that we have a title to this land.”   

Read the story at the Jerusalem Post...






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