When the Saudi Plan was first tabled in 2002, it made mention of swaps. I recall that in this discussion, they mentioned swaps should be of equal value rather than equal size. T. Belman
In DC, Qatari PM reiterates call for peace deal based on 1967 borders, but cites possibility of ‘comparable,’ mutually agreed and ‘minor’ land swaps between Israel, Palestinians. Kerry: Agreement common interest for region, whole world
Yitzhak Benhorin, YNET
WASHINGTON – Arab countries endorsed a Mideast peace plan Monday that would allow for small shifts in Israel’s 1967 border, moving them closer to President Barack Obama’s two-state vision.
Speaking on behalf of an Arab League delegation to Washington, Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani called for an agreement between Israel and a future Palestine based on the Jewish state’s border before the 1967 Six-Day War. But, unlike in previous such offers, he cited the possibility of “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Qatari PM said the Arab League delegation “understand that peace between the (Palestinians and Israel) – it’s a strategic choice for the Arab states,” adding that “we all think that we should work together to find a sound economical package to help the Palestinian state.”
Al Thani spoke after his delegation met across the street from the White House with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been pushing Arab leaders to embrace a modified version of their decade-old “Arab Peace Initiative” as part of a new US-led effort to corral Israel and the Palestinians back into direct peace talks.
Those negotiations have hardly occurred at all over the past 4 1/2 years amid deep disagreement over Israeli settlement construction in lands the Palestinians hope to include in their country.
“We’ve had a very positive, very constructive discussion over the course of the afternoon, with positive results,” Kerry said at Blair House, speaking with Al Thani at a podium beside him and senior officials from five other Arab governments behind them. He praised the Arab League for the “important role it is playing, and is determined to play, in bringing about a peace in the Middle East – and specifically by reaffirming the Arab Peace Initiative here this afternoon, with a view to ending the conflict.”
Kerry, who has been to the Middle East three times in his short stint as secretary of state, said that he and Biden stressed the vision that Obama outlined in 2011, when he became the first American leader to publicly declare Israel’s pre-1967 lines as the basis for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
“On behalf of the President, I reaffirmed, as did the vice president, the US commitment to pursue an end to the conflict based on the vision that President Obama outlined in May of 2011: Two states living side by side in peace and security brought about through direct negotiations between the parties,” the secretary of state said.