Palestinians reject Israeli peace offer

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 |  Ryan Jones

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday flatly rejected a far-reaching final status peace proposal by Israeli Prime MInister Ehud Olmert, calling it "unacceptable" and indicative of what the Palestinians say is Israel's lack of seriousness in concluding a peace deal.

Israeli media reported earlier in the day that Olmert had presented Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas with a preliminary or "shelf" agreement based on an Israeli withdrawal from 93 percent of Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") and free passage between those territories and the Gaza Strip.

Olmert also agreed to surrender a portion of Israel's Negev desert to the Palestinians to make up for the areas in Judea and Samaria where large Jewish towns would remain.

Israel's implementation of those terms was to be contingent on Abbas reasserting control over Hamas-ruled Gaza and enacting reforms that would enable the Palestinian Authority to effectively govern itself.

The offer was the most generous by Israel since former Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed in 2000 to surrender about 98 percent of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as the entire eastern half of Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials cited by the Israeli media claimed to have never received Olmert's offer, but insisted that when they did, it would be rejected outright because it failed to meet 100% of their demands.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh told Ha'aretz that the published Israeli offer was a "waste of time," and that the Palestinians had no intention of accepting any deal that did not include the uprooting of all Jews currently living in Judea and Samaria, the surrender of eastern Jerusalem and the right for millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees" to flood the Jewish state.

With the Palestinian Authority's long-held refusal to dismantle terror groups, its inability to prevent the fall of Gaza to Hamas, and the Palestinian public's willingness to vote terrorists into power, the number of Israelis ready to meet Palestinian demands in full has dwindled considerably.

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