PA: Reported peace offer unacceptable

Israel reportedly proposed withdrawing from 93% of W. Bank; PMO refuses to comment on the story.

idf nablus 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
idf nablus 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday it would reject an Israeli peace proposal published in the Hebrew press a day earlier which included withdrawal from most of the West Bank. They said such a plan, which they did not confirm receiving, would be unacceptable because it did not call for the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Under the proposal, which was published in Haaretz, Israel would withdraw from 93 percent of the West Bank, in addition to all of the Gaza Strip, after the PA regains control over the Gaza Strip. Olmert had presented PA President Mahmoud Abbas with the proposal as part of an agreement in principle on borders, refugees and security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestinian state, the report claimed. In exchange for West Bank land that Israel would keep, Olmert proposed a 5.5% land swap giving the Palestinians a desert territory adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians were unaware of the existence of such a proposal. "At no time were the Palestinians presented with a detailed set of proposals by [Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert or any Israeli official," he said. "All the details mentioned in this report are either completely untrue or are not linked to reality." The Prime Minister's Office neither confirmed nor denied the Haaretz report. Its spokesman Mark Regev said that progress had been made in the negotiations, including with respect to borders, but that in other areas there was still important work that had to be done. Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for Abbas said "the Israeli proposal [in Haaretz] is not acceptable" and called it a "waste of time." He added that "the Palestinian side will only accept a Palestinian state with territorial continuity, with Jerusalem as its capital, without settlements, and on the June 4, 1967 boundaries." Abu Rudaineh said the proposal showed that Israel was "not serious" about reaching peace with the Palestinians on the basis of a two-state solution. Erekat said the Palestinians would not accept any solution that excludes the issues of Jerusalem and the "right of return" for the Palestinian refugees. "The era of partial agreements and phased tactics has gone," Erekat added. "The talks [with Israel] are continuing despite the wide gap between the two sides." He said that the peace process was aimed at fulfilling the resolutions of the United Nations and the terms of the Road-Map, which call for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, and which does not have any settlements in it. Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said he had no personal knowledge of the plan but had read the Haaretz story and heard from the media that the Palestinians had rejected the plan. "So Israel's security and sovereignty was saved once again by the Palestinians," Dayan said. He added, "it's outrageous that a man in [Olmert's] position presented such a proposal." When it comes to Olmert, he said, "the sign 'game over' is already on the screen." MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima), who himself lives in the settlement of Ma'aleh Michmash, said he did not support giving away 93% of Judea and Samaria. But he added that he wasn't overly concerned by the proposal because he did not believe that Olmert could drum up enough support to pass it. Olmert would have to drop his offer of territorial withdrawal down to 87% if he wanted it to garner legislative support, said Schneller. A proposal to withdraw from 87% of Judea and Samaria would leave the majority of the settlements intact, and "therefore you can come to an agreement," he said. MK Collette Avital (Labor) said that talk of 93% was not new. Although she herself would support such a proposal, she too was of the opinion that Olmert lacked the political clout to pass either that proposal or the necessary legislation surrounding, it such as an early evacuation compensation bill which she has been touting. "Maybe with a new government it would be possible," she said. Herb Keinon contributed to this report.