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Israel's Olmert Says he Will Change Borders, Keep Lands in West Bank


Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert says he wants to dramatically change Israel's borders in coming years. Mr. Olmert's comments come as opinion polls show him a heavy favorite to win Israel's general election next week.

In an interview with Israel's Army Radio, Ehud Olmert says Israel's borders with the West Bank will be dramatically different from what they are today.

Mr. Olmert says he will seek the views of different groups of Israelis when it comes to drawing Israel's borders and that he wants all Israelis involved in the decision.

Last week, Mr. Olmert said he would keep three large settlement blocs in the West Bank as Israeli territory as part of his plan to draw Israel's final border with the Palestinians by the year 2010.

Mr. Olmert also says he will keep the Jordan Valley as a security buffer, but will abandon a number of isolated settlements in the West Bank.

Palestinians have denounced the plan, saying it violates international law and will doom any possibility of creating a viable independent Palestinian state. U.S. officials say they believe Israel will hold onto some settlement blocs in any agreement with the Palestinians, but that Israel should halt all further settlement construction in the West Bank, including construction that links the large settlement blocs that Mr. Olmert wants to keep with Israeli territory.

In his interview with Army Radio, Mr. Olmert says he hopes his Kadima party will win more than 40 seats in the 120-seat Knesset next week, ensuring that Kadima will be large enough to lead Israel without depending on small parties that have helped to make Israeli government unstable. No Israeli government in the past decade has managed to survive its full four-year term in office.

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