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Olmert reportedly proposed detailed land swap

JERUSALEM (JTA)  — Ehud Olmert proposed exchanging with the Palestinians West Bank settlement blocs for land bordering the Gaza Strip, an Israeli daily reported.

Ha’aretz reported Thursday that as prime minister, Olmert presented a map to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last September giving the Palestinians land from communities bordering Gaza, as well as land in the Beit Shean Valley, the Judean Hills and near Lachish, for a total of about 126 square miles.

Abbas reportedly did not respond to the proposed map and negotiations ended, according to Ha’aretz.

The proposal would have annexed to Israel Ma’aleh Adumim, the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements, Ariel, Beit Aryeh and settlements adjacent to Jerusalem, but would have involved the evacuation of dozens of settlements in the Jordan Valley, the eastern Samarian hills and the Hebron region, including Ofra, Beit El, Elon Moreh, Kiryat Arba and the Jewish community in Hebron, according to Ha’aretz.

The newspaper said its information was based on sources who received detailed information about the proposal.

Olmert, who has not provided Netanyahu with the detailed map, is suggesting that his map be the basis for restarting negotiations. 

In responde to the Ha’aretz story, Olmert’s office said that "On September 16, 2008, [Olmert] presented Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] a map that had been prepared based upon dozens of conversations that the two held in the course of the intensive negotiations after the Annapolis summit. The map that was presented was designed to solve the problem of the borders between Israel and the future Palestinian state. Giving Abu Mazen the map was conditioned upon signing a comprehensive and final agreement with the Palestinians so it would not be used as an ‘opening position’ in future negotiations the Palestinians sought to conduct. Ultimately, when Abu Mazen did not give his consent to a final and complete agreement, the map was not given to him."

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