Israel's care-taker Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made a final offer to return 93 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians and to address the issue of Jerusalem under an international framework, reports said Thursday.
Under the proposal, Israel would return 93 percent of the West Bank territory and re-locate over 60,000 settlers, while retaining large settlements in Palestinian territories. The deal would also ensure that the Jewish state ceded control of some peripheral neighborhoods and refugee camps on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
The proposal was made during a meeting last September between Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Olmert, said the reports, quoting senior officials as saying that the pledges marked the outgoing Prime Minister's final offer to end the Middle East conflict.
There was one point when I put things on the table and offered Abbas something that had never been offered, and dealt with the crux of the problem, with the most sensitive issues that touch the most exposed nerves and historical obstacles, Olmert was quoted as telling a political conference held near Tel Aviv Thursday.
On the sovereignty of Jerusalem, which is regarded by Israel as its permanent and inalienable capital, and the east part of which is termed by Palestinians as the capital of their future state, Olmert proposed to address it under an international framework, the reports said.
The plan was also presented to the United States, an influential player in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which supported it, added the reports.
Now that the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu ministry, dominated by right-wingers who traditionally hold hard-line stances toward the peace process with the Palestinians, will replace Olmert, the peace prospect of the two neighbors seems increasingly bleak.
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