While Obama proposes ’67 lines plus swaps, the Arab League are willing to endorse “small shifts” in Israel’s 1967 borders, by means of “minimal” land swaps of identical size. The PA has offered to swap 1.9% or the land whereas Olmert and Livni want 6 to 10% exchanged. Bottom line is that a deal cannot be arranged. The Arabs are hard lined as ever and Obama is backing them. Ted Belman
By Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury, HAARETZ
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides fear that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will accept the Arab League definition of the borders for a Palestinian state and the principle of territorial exchanges.
Netanyahu and his advisers believe the Arab League declaration could undermine Israel’s position in negotiations with the Palestinians, according to an Israeli source familiar with talks held in the past two days.
On Monday, the Arab League endorsed a Mideast peace plan that would allow for small shifts in Israel’s 1967 border, moving it closer to the two-state concept endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama.
“The prime minister’s advisers are not keen about the Arab League’s announcement,” the source said. “Netanyahu and his advisers believe it would have been better had this announcement not been made.”
The source said that while the aides acknowledge positive parts of the Arab League’s announcement, such as the desire to renew the peace process, they see more disadvantages in it than opportunities.
Netanyahu and his aides’ objections result from the emphasis in the Arab announcement that they are willing to endorse “small shifts” in Israel’s 1967 borders, by means of “minimal” land swaps of identical size.
In recent years the Palestinians have said they were ready to exchange 1.9 percent of the West Bank’s area.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said they were willing to accept land swaps of 6-10 percent of the West Bank’s area. That would allow Israel to retain many more settlements than the smaller land exchange the Palestinians favor.
The American administration’s position, expressed in Obama’s speech in May 2011, is that the Palestinian state’s borders must be based on the ‘67 borders with territorial exchanges, without mention of their size.
A few days later Obama added that the Palestinian state’s borders must take into account the changes made since 1967, i.e. the large settlement blocs.
The Israeli source said Netanyahu and his aides see the Arab League’s declaration as a “trick” that could determine opening terms for negotiations that would be bad for Israel.
The fact that Kerry stood beside Qatar’s prime minister while he was reading the announcement increased Netanyahu’s aides’ suspicions toward Kerry.
“Netanyahu and his advisers aren’t sure where Kerry is going and where he stands regarding the Arab announcement,” he said.
Netanyahu’s aides fear Kerry’s news conference with the Arab League representatives could mark a drift in the American position on the Palestinian state’s borders and land swaps, moving it toward the Arab position of “small” border …read more