Arab states appeared to soften their 2002 peace plan on Monday when a
top Qatari official said Israel and the Palestinians could trade land
rather than conform exactly to their 1967 borders.
bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, made
the comment after he and a group of Arab officials met US Secretary of
State John Kerry to discuss how to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.
on behalf of an Arab League delegation, Sheikh Hamad appeared to make a
concession to Israel by explicitly raising the possibility of land
swaps, although it has long been assumed that these would be part of any
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni referred to
al-Thani's comments as "very positive news" in an interview with Army
Radio on Tuesday morning.
She expressed hope that his comments
would help get the Palestinians to return to negotiations and send a
message to the Israeli public that an agreement with the Palestinians
would lead to normalization of ties with the wider Arab world.
Livni praised both the Arab League and the US for their efforts.
has made no secret of his hope to revive peace talks, which broke down
in 2010, but it remains unclear whether US President Barack Obama will
decide to back a major US effort.
In convening the group,
Kerry is trying to ensure that a new peace process would have the
backing of the Arab states, who, if they were to offer Israel a
comprehensive peace, hold a powerful card that could provide an
incentive for Israeli compromises.
"The Arab League delegation
affirmed that agreement should be based on the two-state solution on the
basis of the 4th of June 1967 line, with the (possibility) of
comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land," he told reporters
after the meeting at the Blair House, the US president's guest house.
talks included the Bahraini, Egyptian, Jordanian and Qatari foreign
ministers as well as officials from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the
Palestinian Authority and the Arab League. US Vice President Joe Biden
also attended part of the meeting.
The Arab League proposal
offered full Arab recognition of Israel if it gave up land seized in the
1967 war and accepted a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.
Rejected by Israel when it was originally proposed at a Beirut summit in 2002, the plan has major obstacles to overcome.
objects to key points, including a return to 1967 borders, the
inclusion of Arab east Jerusalem in a Palestinian state and the return
of Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel.
The core issues
that need to be settled in the more than six-decade dispute include
borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the future of Jewish
settlements on the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem.
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