Olmert offered land swap for settlements: Paper

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Jerusalem: Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
offered to swap Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip and West
Bank in exchange for settlement blocs in the West Bank, the
Haaretz newspaper reported today, in the most detailed account
of the former Israeli leader`s proposed concessions.

The Palestinians did not respond to the September 2008
proposal, submitted at a time when Olmert`s ability to
negotiate a peace deal was compromised by corruption
allegations that eventually forced him to step down. Talks
broke down after Israel`s war against Gaza militants last
winter and have not resumed.

In all, Olmert proposed ceding 5.8 per cent of Israeli
territory for 6.3 per cent of the West Bank where 75 per cent
of the 300,000 Jewish settlers live.

He offered nearly 39 square miles (100 square kilometers)
of Israeli territory near the tiny Gaza Strip and nearly 88
square miles (227 square kilometers) near the West Bank, much
of it from the Judean desert near the West Bank`s southern
end, Haaretz said.

The former Israeli leader also proposed a road link
through Israel to allow Palestinians to travel between the
non-contiguous West Bank and Gaza. That highway would have
remained sovereign Israeli territory but there would have been
no Israeli presence there, Haaretz said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told Haaretz that
Olmert presented several proposed maps.