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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The offices of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Shimon Peres vigorously denied a report in Tuesday's Ha'aretz newspaper alleging that they crafted a plan to establish a Palestinian state on the equivalent of 100 percent of the land in the West Bank.
"We are not aware of any such plan described in the article," Olmert's office said in the most strongly worded denial the office has ever issued. "It is not being considered or discussed. We are amazed by the false report, which was published without asking for a response or checking whether it was true."
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According to the plan, Israel would maintain settlement blocs totaling five percent of the West Bank and compensate the Palestinians with land inside pre-1967 Israel from blocs of Arab communities, with the residents' acquiescence. The paper said Peres presented the plan to Olmert after he became president.
Olmert said at a Kadima event two weeks ago that he would welcome Peres's involvement in diplomatic issues, but Peres's associates said the plan published fits more with the ideology of Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
A similar plan is the diplomatic platform of Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu party. But even he distanced himself from the report in a statement released Tuesday.
"I welcome the acceptance of my idea of population exchanges, because there is no other solution," Lieberman said. "The solution must include all of the settlement blocs and leave Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. But there is no sense in talking about a Palestinian state until the PA proves itself.
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