Thursday, January 2, 2014

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Israeli Offer of Land Swaps

Whether you think this offer is good or not, the Huffington Post should cover the rumors of it:

Israel has raised the idea of transferring parts of the territory in “the triangle” southeast of Haifa — along with the hundreds of thousands of Israeli-Arab citizens who live there — to a future Palestinian state in return for annexing West Bank territory including settlement blocs, Maariv reported on Wednesday.The idea is not central to the formal talks being brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due back in Israel on Thursday pushing a “framework” peace agreement. But it has been discussed “at the highest levels” between Israel and the US, the report said.The area known as “the triangle,” located in the Sharon plain, contains mostly Arab-populated towns and cities such as Kafr Qara, Umm al-Fahm, Tayibe and Qalansawe. It was to have come under Jordanian rule in the arrangements that saw the establishment of the State of Israel but was ultimately included in Israeli sovereign territory under the 1949 armistice agreements because of Israeli security demands, and instead Israel ceded territory that had been earmarked for Israeli sovereignty in the area of the southern Hebron hills.Unnamed sources told Maariv that the “triangle” plan has come up during talks between Israel and US officials at various levels, including at least one occasion when very senior officials including Kerry were in attendance. Israeli legal officials have begun investigating legal aspects of such an arrangement, the newspaper said. It added that the Americans have apparently not assented to the idea, and that the Palestinians are likely to reject it.The idea is aimed at addressing two central issues in a possible peace agreement: first, land swaps between Israel and a Palestinian state that would enable Israel to expand its sovereignty to encompass major West Bank settlements, while compensating the Palestinians with territory that is currently part of sovereign Israel; and second, preserving Israel’s Jewish majority.The possibility of land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians has gained widespread backing in the international community, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making stiffer territorial demands than some of his prime ministerial predecessors, the report said, including refusing to give away as much as he receives. In other words, whereas former prime minister Ehud Olmert was prepared to trade land on a one-to-one basis, Netanyahu is apparently pushing for a better formulation from Israel’s point of view.

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