Olmert: No doubt Israel can evacuate 80,000 settlers from West Bank

Former Israeli prime minister says his proposed peace deal in 2008 included no Israeli presence in Jordan Valley, contrary to current Israeli demand.

Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas - GPO - Archive
Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas in Jericho, Aug. 6, 2007. / Photo by GPO
By The Associated Press
Published 23:21 07.02.14

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that if talks he held with Palestinians in 2008 had produced a peace deal, it would have forced tens of thousands of Jewish settlers to leave their homes in the West Bank.

If a deal had been reached at the time, it would also not have included an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley, Olmert said. In an interview with Channel 2 TV, Olmert said that in his opinion, a deal in 2008 would have made "about 80,000" settlers leave their homes.

Asked if Israel would be able to evacuate 80,000 settlers today, Olmert said: "I have no doubt that it is possible."

The plan back then, supported by then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and presented to the Americans, did not include an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, an area in the West Bank that borders Jordan.

Israel wants a continued presence along the strategic border while Palestinians demand Israelis withdraw once a Palestinian state is formed. Israel has traditionally viewed the valley as a buffer against possible Arab ground attack from the east, though Israeli security experts are now split on whether the Jewish state needs to maintain control there in an era when long-range rockets may pose a greater threat than tanks. Israel also has a peace treaty with Jordan.

Netanyahu faces strong objection to territorial withdrawals from some ministers within his own coalition. Many Israelis don't want their country to withdraw from the West Bank or parts of east Jerusalem because they have deep religious significance for many devout Jews, who see the areas as their biblical heartland and heritage.

Others object because of security concerns, citing Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 that was followed by the strip's takeover by Islamic Hamas militants in 2007 and used as a staging ground for attacks on Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been demanding that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish national homeland for peace talks to succeed, arguing that Israel is being asked to recognize the Palestinians future state as their national homeland.

The current Israeli prime minister has said that recognition of the Jewish state is at the "root of the conflict," as it predates settlements and other issues at the heart of the negotiations.

Olmert said he discussed the issue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he said he knew "better than anyone" because the two met 36 times about all the core issues in the conflict. Olmert said when the moment for an agreement arrives, he believes the issue will be solved to Israel's satisfaction.

In 2008, Israel offered to withdraw from roughly 94 percent of the West Bank and compensate the Palestinians with the equivalent of 6 percent through a "land swap" that would allow Israel to keep major settlements. Olmert also proposed international administration of Jerusalem's holy sites.

Abbas did not agree to the deal then. Olmert said Friday he doesn't know why Abbas turned it down.

Despite his well-known disputes with Netanyahu, Olmert said he is convinced the current prime minister wants to reach a peace agreement.

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  • 19.
    Here's a thought experiment.
    Imagine that there is an Iranian army of 1 million revolutionary guards marching towards the Jordan River. Q: How long would it take Israel to evacuate ALL the settlers from the West Bank? A: About 48 hours, I'd suggest.
  • Abou the same time if a 1 mln. strong army of aborigienis were approaching Melborne. And the same likelihood.
  • 18.
    I have a better idea. Evacuate Olmert! I have a really hard time
    Placing any credibility in a crook and criminal like Olmert. He would have led Israel to ruin.
  • 17.
    Why Abbas Turned It Down?
    Look at the 94% of land Israel was supposedly willing to cede back to Palestinians. I do not believe that Olmert required the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the "Jewish State". If 80,000 colonists are returned to their homes in Israel, how many would be allowed to remain? 350,000. And was not the 6% of Israeli territory returned to Palestine, mostly useless desert wasteland? The question that remains open of course is how, with even this proposal made by Olmert, could you have a viable, contiguous Palestinian state, one that would not be bifurcated into two separate sections of north and south with EJ cut off from the rest of the WB? How is that viable.
  • 16.
    who pays?
    And Olmert will pay the wasted billion Shekel from his own bank account! Great expectations indeed
  • 15.
    Another Israeli manouver
    Olmert is simply setting the constraints for the new peace negotiations. Currently, there are over 500,000 Jewish settlers living on Palestinian land. So Olmert is saying "we're willing to consider the relocation of a maximum of 80,000" and conveniently forgets to mention that over 420,000 will remain on illegally occupied land.
  • The funny thing is is that there is no historic nor juridical WB-Palestine!
    The present lines around the WB have never been any "border-lines", but lines within which the Palestinians only WANT to exist as a state. The thing is that the borders must be first discussed and to define where to draw the Palestine's borders in the WB. The WB as "Palestinian" has been arbitrarily pulled out of the hat, but the lines the Pals have drawn around it have NO juridical nor historic basis. I find it weird that this underlying FACT has never been highlighted, but that "WB equals PA" is internationally recognized as PA territory and is taken for granted, even though it is NOT self-evident! The Pals sure have succeeded in pulling the intl. community's leg and made it believe in a hoax. Now what does that tell us about its decision makers ? It shows only their proper ignorance and that ignorance and negligence to bother to search for the right info and the truth about matters expose these world's decision makers' incompetence to run the world and unsuitability to hold their positions.
  • border lines
    The UN gave land to Israel and it did NOT include the West Bank. Most countries of the world recognized Palestine a couple of years ago, except Israel and the US toadies. But what does the world know? When Israel loses a decision, the UN is a useless body, but she runs to that body when in need of assistance.
  • 14.
    The End
    A country like Israel whose decision making is based on paranoia and religious fundamentalism can only end in chaos and destruction.
  • We Aren't Worried in the Least
    Why are you worried about Israel???
  • The End - chaos and destruction or just a relentless withering away
    Agree that paranoia and religious fundamentalism may well do Israel in but with the young and well educated Jewish Israelis leaving for the EU or USA, isn't it just as likely that Israel will just quietly fail. Isn't it just as likely that Zionism ends not with a bang but a whimper?
  • 13.
    If 750.000 natives can be "evacuated", so can be even more illegal settlers.
  • If we can evict Settlers, Surely we can evict all the Palestinans
    Yes, these same Palestinians who have perpetrated unspeakable acts against innocent civilians. It is time to really discuss the Palestinians moving to one of the other 2 dozen Arab nations. My parents were forced to move from their home decades ago. They were given no incentive, just the clothes on their back. Lets incentivize the Palestinians to move, and start a new life. If you all talk about the heroic Settlers moving, lets evict the Palestinians.
  • No, Gianni, the latter is a war crime.
    The former isn't. Pretty simple, really: an occupier is prohibited from colonizing an occupied territory. So if it has done that (and Israel has) then it is under an obligation to undo that criminal act. By contrast, the Palestinians are "protected persons" under intl humanitarian law, and therefore can not be "forcibly transferred".
  • "Not a country" ICC blocked Palestine war crimes probe recently. Does that mean anything to you, boy John?
    Hint: the Rome Statue is for cojntries only and does not apply to disputed territories.
  • 12.
    If Israel has put 500,000 settlers there
    It can damn well remove them too.
  • 11.
    Olmerts Deal was rejected by Abbas
    Because it did not give Palestinians rights over the Water Resources which are in Occupied Territory which Israel plunders. Also before talks were finished Olmert and Livni launched Cast Lead so negotiations were terminated.
  • 10.
    If this peace talks fail, Israel's survival will very hard against enemies with modern weapons...
  • 9.
    Mr. Olmert
    May you find yourself lost and stranded in a village of Palestinian Muslims, and may you be treated only with dignity, kindness and respect.
  • 8.
    Criminal person
    This criminal person should not advice how to destroy Israel.
  • 7.
    Jews will never fight Jews. That's why there is an Israel, after all.
  • 6.
    Sell out talk from a thief and criminal!
  • 5.
    Olmert is absolutely right
    the illegal settlers planted themselves so easily in disputed lands, they can be just as easily be replanted elsewhere. From this article, it seems Israeli leaders got greedier and greedier - their demands increased with every peace negotiation.
  • 4.
    Should we really be taking advice from one of the worst PMs?
    While in office he displayed extremely poor judgment. This is without getting into the corruption issues.
  • Olmert can sign the death sentence of Israel for sufficient money at his Swiss bank account.
  • 3.
    80K out of 500K lmao just get rid of all of them. They all knew they were breaking the law.
  • 2.
    Olmert, the most trustworthy of Israel. He will stop smiling when Iran bombs him.
    I see his ripped-off balls ascending to heaven as the ultmate greeting from Israel. How can history be so cruel. Just unbelievable!
  • 1.
    who cares what cocktail circuit boy has to say- he's a convicted criminal. you cannot trust him at all.
    omert shmolmert...