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U.S. agreed to accept 100,000 Palestinian refugees: former Israeli PM


On english.news.cn


Officials in former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration had agreed to allow 100, 000 Palestinian refugees to settle in the United States, if Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) signed a permanent peace deal, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert revealed on Sunday.

"The U.S. government agreed to absorb 100,000 Palestinian refugees as American citizens," Olmert was quoted by local daily Yediot Aharonot as telling a crowd at a conference of the Geneva Initiative in Tel Aviv Sunday night. Similar reports were also seen on many other local media.
The Geneva Initiative, or Geneva Accord, is a model permanent- status agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, announced in December, 2003 in Switzerland.
Its implementation would force Israel to cede almost all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians, and draw its borders close to the [1967] lines. It would also calls for dividing Jerusalem, with East Jerusalem serving as the capital of the future Palestinian state.
Olmert said, in his words, that Bush understood the complexity of the refugee issue and that the U.S. President suggested a solution which might have been acceptable to the Arab League as part of an international compensation framework.
The issue of Palestinian refugees has always been a core issue in past Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and is expected to occupy a considerable portion of the recently-launched direct talks.
Palestinians have consistently demanded "the right of return" to resettle descendants of refugees in areas within Israel proper.
Israel has traditionally rejected such Palestinians demands to absorb hundreds of thousands of refugee descendants within its borders. But Olmert said he told Abbas he would be willing to allow "a certain number" of Palestinians "less than 20,000" to live in Israel.
Olmert said that he offered Abbas the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state and dividing Jerusalem while transferring control over its "holy basin," which contains the Old City, to international oversight.
"If there's anyone in the world who thinks that a peace agreement can be reached without dividing Jerusalem, then he's simply deluding himself," Olmert said.
Olmert complimented current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his decision to negotiate directly with Abbas, but said that a permanent settlement to the conflict can only be based on the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 war cease-fire lines.