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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Photo: Haim Tzach
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Photo: Haim Tzach
 
 

Olmert: Convergence to cost USD 10 billion

PM Olmert tells Wall Street Journal he will seek broad international support for his plan to withdraw some 70,000 settlers from West Bank; On planned May visit to U.S. PM will ask financial backing for plan, which will be completed within 18 months

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 04.12.06, 18:48 / Israel News

In an interview published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his “convergence plan” will cost up to USD 10 billion.

 

Olmert said he plans to visit Washington in May to seek U.S. political and financial backing for his plan.

 

The newly appointed prime minister said he intends on withdrawing 70,000 Jewish settlers from the West Bank, less than a third of the 250,000 currently living beyond the Green Line.

 

In return, Israel will keep hold of large West Bank settlement blocks, where most of the evacuees will be relocated.

 

Olmert will ask for Washington to help him gather international support for plans to draw up final borders with the Palestinians to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel for decades to come.

 

Olmert said although Israel maintains it has no peace partner on the Palestinian side, he intends on providing favorable conditions that will eventually lead to a final peace agreement through negotiations and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

 

"The State of Israel will change the face of the region," Olmert told the newspaper of his plan. "I will not miss this opportunity."

 

In the interview, Olmert ruled out the possibility of deviding Jerusalem, but kept open the possibility of handing over Arab neighborhoods in the city to the Palestinian Authority. "Dividing Jerusalem will not bring peace, only more fighting," he said.

 

Olmert estimated he will form a coalition within two weeks, after which he will appoint a team of military, legal, economic and political experts to formulate the convergence plan.

 

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