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Olmert offered land swap for settlements: paper

world Updated: Dec 17, 2009 15:15 IST

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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.