Olmert Offered Gaza Expansion for PA State
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested transferring to the Palestinian Authority the agricultural fields belonging to kibbutzim and moshavim (agricultural communities) in the Gaza Belt region as part of a final status agreement.
As described in a special report published Thursday by the Ha'aretz newspaper, the Olmert Plan also included transferring a large portion of the nature reserves in the Judean Desert, in exchange for annexation of settlements in areas along the western section of Israel.
The information published in the newspaper was provided by sources who had detailed knowledge about Olmert’s proposals, according to journalist Aluf Benn.
According to the “Olmert Map,” the future border between Israel and Gaza would run next to kibbutzim such as Be’eri, Kissufim and Nir Oz – all of whose fields would be ceded to the Palestinian Authority.
Olmert additionally was willing to cede to the PA for its proposed new state the land in the Beit She’an Valley near Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, in the Judean Hills near Nataf and Mevo Betar, in the area of Lachish, and in the area of the Yatir Forest.
A total of 327 square kilometers of land from within pre-1967 Israel would have been given to the Palestinian Authority had PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accepted Olmert’s offer in September 2008.
However, Abbas chose not to respond, and there the matter rested, with negotiations frozen.
In return for these land transfers, Olmert wanted to annex 6.3 percent of Judea and Samaria to Israel. The areas that he wanted to annex are home to 75 percent of the Jewish population in the region.
However, dozens of other Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley, the eastern Samarian hills and the Hevron region would have been expelled in a manner similar to that which took place in the Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005.
In exchange for retaining the city of Ma’aleh Adumim, the Gush Etzion bloc, Ariel, Beit Aryeh and the suburbs of Jerusalem, Olmert proposed transferring 5.8 percent of land in Judea and Samaria in addition to that which was already designated as “PA territory”. He was also willing to add a safe-passage route from Hevron to Gaza with no Israeli presence, albeit through territory controlled by Israel.
The detailed map shared by Olmert with Abbas on September 16, 2008 was ultimately not handed over to the PA chairman, according to Olmert’s office, because Abbas refused to continue talks.
Olmert’s office told Ha'aretz in response to the release of details of his plan that although the map had been designed to solve the problem of the borders between Israel and the PA, “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.’”
According to the report, the former prime minister has suggested that his map be used as the basis for reviving talks with the PA. He said that the international community must demand a formal response to Olmert’s proposal from Abbas, and proceed from there. However, he has not given a copy of his detailed map to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.