Olmert counts on US backing for pullout

Palestinians oppose Olmert plan: Borders can only be set through negotiations.

olmert 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
olmert 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he planned to get US backing before pushing forward with his plan to withdraw from much of the West Bank, maintain control of major settlement blocs and draw Israel's final borders by 2010. In the Israel Radio interview, Olmert expanded on his plan to determine Israel's final borders, if necessary, through unilateral West Bank pullouts. "I spoke about negotiations with the United States and the international community and I spoke about final borders that the entire international community will support, including the United States of America," Olmert said. "I have a basis to believe that there is great openness in the United States, and in other places, to listen to these arguments and also to seriously discuss them." The Palestinians oppose Olmert's plan, saying that Israel has no right to retain any settlements and final borders can only be decided through negotiations. Israel Radio commentators pushed him to talk about the makeup of his government and how he would divvy up Cabinet portfolios. Olmert refused to comment on portfolios, but said only parties that accept his plan to pullout of isolated West Bank settlements could join his government. Ahead of the Tuesday election, candidates made a last-ditch effort to win over voters, amid fears of an unprecedented low turnout. The three top candidates gave interviews to Israel Radio, trying to clarify their differences and launching final, fierce attacks on their rivals. Amir Peretz, head of the Labor Party, which is expected to finish a distant second, used his last day of campaigning to attack former prime minister Shimon Peres, the longtime Labor leader who defected to Kadima after losing a party primary to Peretz. Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu attacked Olmert and Peretz, but also defended the economic moves he is being lambasted for taking when he served as finance minister under Sharon.