PMO: No post-realignment concessions

Aides say no territory will be returned after the unlateral withdrawal.

Blair olmert 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Blair olmert 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not willing to negotiate more territorial concessions with a prospective Palestinian partner after a unilateral Israel withdrawal from most of the West Bank, his associates said on Thursday at the conclusion of his five-day trip to Europe. Olmert raised eyebrows in a press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street on Monday, when he talked about his willingness to evacuate "90 percent of the West Bank" and suggested that that there could be negotiations with a Palestinian partner after his realignment plan was implemented. In a briefing for Israeli reporters after the press conference, Olmert said the 90% figure was "just a general direction" and asked not to read too much into it. Olmert's associates clarified on Thursday that any negotiations on the remaining 10% would be over technical issues like water, electricity and sewage and not over territory. Olmert's spokesman said many issues remain unclear regarding what territory would be included in a potential withdrawal. As examples he cited the size of a narrow strip of land in the Jordan Valley that Israel intends to keep as a security zone and the fate of several Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The prime minister has mentioned Isawiya as a neighborhood that would not be part of Israel forever, but it is on Israel's side of the security fence. Olmert has also made a point of not answering questions about the fate of Hebron. After his recent visits to the US, Egypt, Jordan, England and France, Olmert's globe-trotting is not over yet. He is set to visit Germany next month and is expected to make a short visit to Turkey in August and a longer trip to Russia ahead of the High Holy Days in September.