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Olmert: I've never endorsed Palestinians' right of return
Olmert: I've never endorsed Palestinians' right of return
Former Israeli prime minister and war crimes suspect Olmert (Israel Channel 2)
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Gaza, ALRAY - Former Israeli occupation prime minister Ehud Olmert said he has never compromised on right of the return of Palestinian refugees during negotiations with Abbas in 2008.

Olmert in an interview with Israel Channel 2 on Friday evening said that he "agreed to the return of 5000 Palestinian refugees with ‘humanitarian profiles’ only, to be divided over five years.

He noted that he offered to Palestinian President Abbas to keep three major colonial settlements in the West Bank and to evacuate 80,000 settlers from the illegal ‘outposts’ and allow them to seek homes within these settlements. 

The war crimes suspect confirmed he agreed to withdraw the Israeli army from the Jordan Valley should certain arrangements got approval of the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Israel, without pronouncing the nature of such arrangements.

“A major obstacle to making peace with the Palestinians was the absence of trust between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,” the JPost quoted Olmert. 

"I am sure that Netanyahu wants to reach a peace settlement. But I think that there is a huge gap between what Netanyahu is willing to offer Abbas and what everyone agrees is required to form the basis of an agreement," he told Channel 2.

On the question of whether Abbas would recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jews, Olmert said that Abbas gave him an answer on the issue that would satisfy Israel at the end of a diplomatic process when a peace deal was reached. Olmert did not specify what Abbas's position was.

He is identified as a war crimes suspect for launching the 22-day Cast Lead offensive against Gaza in late 2008, which claimed the lives of up to 1450 Palestinians, mostly civilians.