Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed Thursday that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had offered a final peace settlement that would include territorial concession equivalent to the entire West Bank, the return of thousands of Palestinian refugees into the West Bank, and the division of Jerusalem.
In an interview with Arabic Radio As-Shams, Erekat stated that the Palestinians had never rejected Olmert’s offer outright, but rather submitted queries alongside their own offer to the Bush administration.
“We submitted our proposal while Olmert became embroiled in scandals, and while elections were taking place in the United States,” Erekat said, hinting that the deal fell through due to external influences.
Erekat also stated the Palestinian plan included forming an international body under the auspices of the United Nations that would solve the refugee issue by offering a set of options to those seeking return to the land.
Erekat also claimed he is certain that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice passed on an 11-page document summarizing Olmert’s proposal to the Obama administration, while completely ignoring that of the Palestinians.
Erekat said he traveled to Washington D.C. a few months after Obama entered office in order to continue negotiations with the proposals submitted by Olmert and the Palestinians as starting points, but that Netanyahu “threw out the proposals” upon assuming premiership of Israel.
Erekat said Palestinian officials were opposed to the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, calling its formation the “result of a long struggle, and should not be considered a favor to Israel.”
He also accused the Israeli government of acting like a “mafia” in freezing funds to the PA in light of its recent acceptance as a full member of UNESCO.
Erekat stated furthermore that despite Israel’s continual policy of “occupation and settlement building,” an aerial photograph provided by European sources shows that settlements have been built on approximately 1.1% of the West Bank, thus legitimizing the Palestinian demand for a withdrawal to borders based on the June 4, 1967 borders.
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