Ehud Olmert has reportedly agreed in principle to admit tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees into Israel under a future peace accord.
In his private talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Olmert has said he would be willing to absorb 50,000 refugees under an accord that would ensure the remaining millions of refugees would be permanently settled in the future Palestine, Maariv reported Friday.
Israel would also naturalize another 50,000 Palestinians who are on its territory illegally, according to the newspaper’s reputable diplomatic correspondent Ben Caspit.
The fate of Palestinian refugees is a core dispute. Abbas has called for a “fair and agreed-upon” solution, while many other Palestinian leaders demand that all refugees have a “right of return” to land now in Israel. Successive Israeli goverments have ruled this out as demographic suicide.
Olmert’s office responded to the report by saying the prime minister, who has met frequently with Abbas ahead of the Annapolis peace conference, has not addressed nor negotiated over the refugee issue.