Olmert: Bush offered Palestinians citizenship

By Jennifer Lipman, September 20, 2010
Ehud Olmert with Mahmoud Abbas and George W Bush at the Annapolis Conference

Ehud Olmert with Mahmoud Abbas and George W Bush at the Annapolis Conference

The former Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has revealed details of a comprehensive Middle East peace deal proposed in September 2008 but rejected by Palestinian negotiators.

According to Mr Olmert, the deal would have involved shared governance of Jerusalem and seen the then United States president George W Bush offer 100,000 Palestinians US citizenship.

The scope of the concessions offered by Mr Olmert was confirmed by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Mr Olmert, who resigned in 2009 to battle corruption charges, said that if the plan had been accepted Israel would have recognised the suffering of Palestinian refugees and also absorbed up to 20,000 into Israel for humanitarian reasons.

However, he said: “This agreement was not achieved when that was possible.

“The Palestinian side was not prepared to make the extra step that I believe we made."

Mr Olmert told an audience in Tel Aviv that he had offered a Palestinian state made up of more than 90 per cent of the West Bank, with land swaps to compensate for areas that remained Israeli territory.

A Palestinian capital would have been established in east Jerusalem, and the Old City would have come under international control, governed by Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the US.

A land route linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would have been established.

Mr Erekat said that after Israel’s plan was rejected a counter-offer was made. He did not give details of that proposal.

Direct discussions restarted between Israel and the Palestinians earlier in September, the first since the Annapolis conference of November 2008, when Mr Olmert met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Olmert made the comments ahead of the publication of his as-yet-untitled political memoir.

He said that if negotiators reached a deal this year as is hoped, his proposals could be used as a blueprint.

Last updated: 2:03pm, September 20 2010