Report: Olmert offers Abbas detailed deal, 93 per cent of West Bank

Israel Materials 12 August 2008 10:44 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has presented a detailed proposal for a peace agreement in principle, which includes a purported Israeli withdrawal from 93 per cent of the West Bank, an Israeli newspaper reported Tuesday.

In addition to the major issue of borders, the proposal also includes arrangements on the sensitive Palestinian refugee problem and on security, the authoritative Ha'aretz daily said, quoting a "senior Israeli official."

Olmert's plan sidelines the issue of Jerusalem, a solution on which Olmert has said he wants to postpone, the report said.

In return for the 7 per cent of the West Bank that Israel wants to confiscate to allow it to keep its major Jewish settlement blocks, the proposal offers the Palestinians alternative land in the southern Israeli Negev desert adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The amount is equivalent to 5.5 per cent of the West Bank, reported dpa.

Abbas in the past has expressed support for a limited land swap that would allow Israel to keep settlement blocs but on a "one on one" basis with the territory exchanged being equal in "size" and "quality."

According to Ha'aretz, Olmert, who met with Abbas this week, feels he has no time left to reach an agreement during his remaining time in office. He is now awaiting a decision from the Palestinians.

Olmert is under police investigation over suspicion of corruption, including an incident in which he allegedly accepted at least 150,000 US dollars from a Jewish American businessman and fund-raiser, possibly as bribes. He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the money covered legitimate travel expenses and election campaign debts.

But late last month, he announced he would resign as soon as his ruling Kadima party elects a new leader next month.

He and Abbas pledged at a peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland, in November to "make every effort" to reach a peace deal this year before US President George W Bush leaves office. They have since held difficult but intense negotiations, which have ended a seven-year freeze in the peace process.

Palestinian officials have denied his claims of progress in the negotiations, which are held away from the media glare and whose details have been classified to avoid them blowing up because of their sensitive nature. The report in Ha'aretz was the first detailed leaked account since the talks began eight months ago.