The idea of the US accepting 100,000 Palestinian refugees as part of a Middle
East peace agreement was suggested by extremely senior figures in the Bush
administration, not by Israel, sources close to former prime minister Ehud
Olmert told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.RELATED:Abrams: Bush never agreed to take 100,000 refugeesOlmert: Barak undermined security ops
The reference to “extremely
senior figures” is assumed to relate either to president George W. Bush himself
or to his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
The sources spoke to the
after Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said that the
administration envisioned that the US would participate in refugee resettlement
activities, but could not have known in advance how many refugees the US might
have been able to take in.
In a speech in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Olmert said
he had reached an agreement with the US on accepting 100,000 refugees.
former deputy, Elliott Abrams, denied this on Monday.
Hadley, the Bush administration discussed with Israel how the
community could assist in implementing a peace agreement, including how
help the Palestinian refugees. Ideas discussed included compensation to
or to countries such as Jordan and Lebanon that would take them in, and
resettling refugees outside the Middle East who wanted to leave the
“In that connection, we envisioned that the US would participate
in any refugee resettlement activities, along with others in the
community, but that anything the US would do would be done through our
immigrations process,” Hadley said.
“Therefore, there is no way to know
in advance the number of refugees that the US might have been able to
should any refugees have wanted to come to the US.”
When he spoke, Hadley
was unaware of Abrams’s flat denial.
“President Bush did not, I am sure,
promise or pledge to take 100,000 Palestinian refugees,” Abrams said.
president knew, as everyone in the White House knew, that no president
power to make such a commitment.
“We have immigration laws and they don’t
allow that kind of move by a president. He would have had to ask
change our laws.
Moreover, we would never have committed to a specific
number anyway, nor did Olmert ask us to or raise that number.”
office reacted to Hadley’s comments the same way it reacted to Abrams’s –
saying that the commitment was made at a higher level.
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday defended Defense Minister Ehud
Olmert’s attacks on him that the former premier delivered in a speech
in a book he is writing.
Olmert had accused Barak of undermining military
operations for political reason, and said Barak had begged to join
replace Amir Peretz as defense minister, even though he was officially
“Such regrettable statements are uncalled for,” Netanyahu said.
“I suggest lowering the flames.”
After a few days in which no Labor MK
defended Barak, Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich, who is herself very critical
Barak, issued a strongly-worded attack on Olmert.
“I think it’s
unbelievable chutzpah that a man who was removed from politics in shame
he was corrupt and is now on trial on serious charges, allows himself
trial, while his fate is up in the air, to sit and write his memoirs,”
Labor Party director-general Weizmann Shiri called Labor ministers
who refused to defend Barak “cowards.”
Barak’s deputy at the Defense
Ministry, MK Matan Vilna’i, questioned why Olmert did not do anything
criticism of Barak when the defense minister served under him.
meanwhile, raised eyebrows when he suggested at a parlor meeting that
jointly with Kadima was one of the options Labor could consider. Kadima
officials immediately responded that their party would not be a fallback
for Laborites looking for jobs.
Kadima leader Tzipi Livni met with her
nemesis, MK Shaul Mofaz, at her initiative, at a Jerusalem humous
following Tuesday’s Knesset Foreign and Affairs and Defense Committee
Spokesmen for both politicians said that after years of
animosity between the two, the meeting went very well.Hilary Leila
Krieger contributed to this report.