Settlers will be allowed to choose to remain in Palestinian territory in the framework of the realignment plan, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday during a meeting with Nobel Prize laureates in Petra, Jordan.
Olmert, who met in a warm and friendly atmosphere with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdullah in the kingdom Thursday, continued after the summit to a conference of Nobel Prize laureates held in the city, where he was to face a less pleasant reception.
the first to address a question to the prime minister was Israeli Nobel Prize laureate and staunch objector to the disengagement, Prof. Yisrael Aumann, who asked Olmert if he plans to go ahead with his realignment plan.
"Your government plans to destroy tens of thousands of homes. This is, first and foremost, a crime against humanity. Do you intend to carry on with this dangerous and cruel plan?" Prof. Aumann inquired.
Olmert's reply was no less surprising: "If Israel has to limit itself to only a part of these territories, any of the settlers residing in the areas designated for evacuation will have to decide whether he wants to continue living in the Jewish state of Israel, or in the Palestinian state."
Prof. Aumann, who declared he was a friend of the PM, hugged Olmert when he descended the stage.
During his speech at the conference, Olmert said that "I must admit I have changed. For me the transformation is a sign of strength, but my family members still feel they don't have enough influence over me."
A minor diplomatic incident tainted the event, after Olmert mentioned Israel's historical borders, "spanning from the sea to the Jordan river." A group of Jordanian officials walked out of the hall in protest in response to these words.