Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said on Monday that Israel insists
on unilaterally drawing its borders, totally rejecting the Right of
Return of the Palestinian Refugees, and that Israel will implement the
Road Map plan but with the implementation of “the letter of assurances”
Israel received from the American president in April 14, 2004.

The letter of assurances, sent by Bush to the then-Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, includes modifying the Road Map Plan in a way that will not oblige Israel to withdraw from Jerusalem, and assures the country that it could retain the large settlement blocs and reject the Right of Return.

Olmert demanded the Palestinians to form a government that abides by Quartet’s conditions to “renounce violence, recognize Israel and recognize the previous peace deals”. 

The statements of Olmert as the government met at Kibbutz Sde Boker, to commemorate the founder of Israel, Minister David Ben-Gurion, who died 33 years ago.

During the ceremony, Olmert claimed that Israel plans to reduce the number of checkpoints in the occupied territories and will facilitate the movement of goods and residents.

He also said that Israel will evacuate some settlements and occupied West Bank “in return for a real peace”. This evacuation does not include the large settlements blocs, and the big settlements, but only includes evacuating illegal settlement outposts.

He claimed that what he proposes will allow the creation of a Palestinian state with geographical contiguity, in spite the fact that he did not declare that Israel is willing to evacuate from all of the occupied territories.

Commenting on the Saudi Initiative, Olmert said that parts of the initiative are good, and that Israel should seek to improve its relations with Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, Olmert added that Israel is ready to take a series of measures in the occupied West Bank, in order to ease the distress of the Palestinian people.

He demanded the safe release of the captured Israeli corporal, Gilad Shalit, and in return the Israeli government “will be willing to release many detainees, including those who are sentenced to lengthy terms”, according to Olmert. 

The Israeli Prime Minister did not specify a number of detainees to be freed, and did not talk about guarantees of freeing those detainees, and easing the restrictions imposed on the Palestinians.