Abbas says ready to swap land with Israel
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
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
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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