Report: Bush offered to absorb 100,000 refugees in peace deal
BETHLEHEM — The Bush administration said it was prepared to absorb 100,000 Palestinian refugees if a peace deal was reached, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday, Israeli media reported.
Speaking at a Geneva Initiative conference in Tel Aviv, Olmert said during negotiations under his premiership with President Mahmoud Abbas that he had offered a solution that would have been in line with the Arab league Peace plan, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
He also said former US President George W Bush had offered the immediate recognition of 100,000 Palestinian refugees as American citizens as part of a framework of international compensation, the daily reported.
According to UNRWA, the UN agency set up in the wake of Israel’s establishment to assist Palestinian refugees displaced between June 1946 and May 1948, there are 4.7 million Palestine refugees now eligible for UNRWA services.
“One-third of the registered Palestine refugees, nearly 1.4 million, live in 58 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” UNRWA estimates.
The right of return, sanctioned under international law, has been the focal point of previous negotiations, as Palestinian negotiators seek to ensure refugees’ rights to compensation from Israel and the right to return to their homes now within Israel.