Abbas says ready to swap land with Israel

Published: May 22, 2010 20:32 Updated: May 23, 2010 01:25 

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians are ready to swap some land with Israel, although 
differences remain over the amount of territory to be traded, Palestinian 
President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, after two rounds of indirect, US-led 
peace talks.

The negotiations began earlier this month, with US envoy George Mitchell 
shuttling between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Abbas' 
comments marked the first time a participant has provided details about the 

Abbas said the first round dealt with borders and security arrangements between 
Israel and the state the Palestinians hope to establish in the West Bank and 
Gaza Strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel wants to annex major Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East 
Jerusalem. In previous negotiations, the two sides agreed that Israel would 
swap some of its territory to compensate the Palestinians, but gaps remained on 
the amount of land to be traded.

Abbas dismissed recent media reports that the Palestinians are willing to trade 
more land than in the past, saying: "We did not agree about the land area, but 
we agreed on the principle of swapping land (equal) in quality and value."

In 2008, the Palestinians offered to cede 1.9 percent of the West Bank to 
Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert.

Olmert sought a 6.5 percent swap.

It is not clear whether Netanyahu accepts the idea of a land swap, and if so, 
how much of the West Bank he wants to keep. Israel has moved nearly half a 
million of its citizens into dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and 
East Jerusalem since the 1967 Mideast War.

A land swap would be crucial to any final agreement between Israel and the 
Palestinians. Talks resumed in early May after a 17-month breakdown.

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