A source with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) close to the Negotiation Affairs Department vehemently denied allegations made on Saturday, which stated that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was planning on proposing a deal that would give up 6.5 percent of Palestinian lands in negotiations during U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit on Tuesday.
British online news agency Middle East Eye reported that a Palestinian official close to the PLO gave the company exclusive information regarding the negotiation proposal, which “appears to cement the vision of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert for a Palestinian-Israeli peace settlement.”
Speaking to Mondoweiss, a source close to the PLO’s Negotiation Affairs Department said the allegations were ludicrous.
“Never in any border negotiations would we present any border modifications of that amount,” the source said. “Those are previous Israeli positions.”
In 2008, Olmert reportedly presented a deal, which Jerusalem Post called an “unprecedented Israeli offer to be tendered to a Palestinian leader.”
The land offer, which consisted of 6.3 percent of West Bank land, included the illegal Israeli settlements of Ariel, the Jerusalem-Ma’aleh Adumin bloc (including E1) and Gush Etzion.
In exchange, Olmert reportedly offered Abbas 5.8 percent of Israeli territory from regions off the north, south and southwest borders of the occupied West Bank. However, none of those 2008 offers ever came to fruition, and the largest land swap ever presented by the Palestinian side in negotiations was around 1.9 percent. The allegations that Abbas was considering a land swap which would give up 6.5 percent of West Bank land would be triple what has ever been reported, and could potentially cause major backlash from the Palestinian public.
Abbas met with U.S. President Trump for the first time during his trip to Washington D.C. in May. Israeli daily Haaretz at the time reported a similar story, writing that “Abbas and his staff showed Trump documents and maps from Israel’s talks with the Palestinians near the end of Olmert’s term, explaining the proposal to him,” however Haaretz did not cite the source of their information.
While Israel has released a detailed schedule for Trump’s visit, the Palestinian Authority has not been so forthcoming on talking points or schedules for Trump’s planned visit with Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday.
In Saudi Arabia Sunday, during his first speech outside of the United States, Trump implied that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was a religious issue, stating that “if these three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) can join, peace in this world is possible, including peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Trump’s visit to Israel will begin on Monday. On Tuesday morning he is scheduled to meet with Abbas, before returning to Israel for an event at 12 p.m., and according to Israel’s Government Press Office Trump’s visit will conclude on Tuesday at 4 p.m. with a farewell ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport.