Abbas: Olmert Offered PA Land Equaling 100% of West Bank

Abbas tells Asharq Al-Awsat that land offered included no Israeli settlements or Israeli Arabs.

Jack Khoury

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday confirmed that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered him land near Gaza in exchange for settlement blocs that Israel wants to annex, Arab-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Sunday.

Abbas said that the proposed swap would have given the Palestinians land that would equal 100 percent of the West Bank. He added that there are no Israeli settlements or Israeli Arab residents in the land surrounding Gaza that was offered to the Palestinians, according to the report.

"I clarified that I refused to annex even one Israeli Arab citizen," Abbas was quoted as saying.

Abbas also denied reports that former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni persuaded the Palestinians to reject the deal due to the criminal investigations against Olmert and the fact that his term would soon be ending.

"Livni did not interfere," Abbas told the paper. "I know there were sensitivities between her and Olmert, but I negotiated with him and felt we could have reached an agreement."

Abbas said a meeting had been scheduled to take place between negotiators Shalom Turgeman and Saeb Erekat, but that the start of Israel's offensive in Gaza effectively ended negotiations.

The map of Olmert's peace plan was published last Thursday in Haaretz.

According to the map proposed by Olmert, which is being made public here for the first time, the future border between Israel and the Gaza Strip would be adjacent to kibbutzim and moshavim such as Be'eri, Kissufim and Nir Oz, whose fields would be given to the Palestinians.

Olmert presented his map to Abbas in September of last year. In an interview with Haaretz last Tuesday, Abbas said Olmert had presented several drafts of his map.