The Arab League’s proposal for land swaps between Israel and a future
Palestinian state has drawn contradictory reactions from Palestinian Authority
officials in the West Bank.
The proposal was announced by Qatari Foreign
Minister Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani following a meeting of an Arab League
delegation with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington earlier this
The PA’s Saeb Erekat said in a statement published in English
shortly after the announcement that the initiative reflected the Palestinian
position in support of minor land swaps with Israel.
PA Foreign Minister
Riyad Malki, who was part of the Arab delegation that met with Kerry, was also
quoted as saying that the proposal had been made in coordination with the
But several PA and Fatah officials have since expressed
reservations about the land swap idea.
Hamas and other radical
Palestinian groups have condemned the land swap proposal as treacherous, arguing
that the Arab countries did not have a mandate to make territorial concessions
In a bid to soften opposition to the idea, PA President
Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Ramallah that any “proposed minor adjustments on
the 1967 borders would be studied during the negotiations” with
“We are demanding the implementation of the two-state vision on
the basis of the 1967 borders, including east Jerusalem, the capital of the
Palestinian state,” Abbas said. “But if there is a need for minor adjustments on
the border, we will study them during the negotiations.”
Asked whether he
was prepared to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas said, “We have
recognized Israel since 1993 and we have reiterated this recognition more than
once. Until two years ago, no one had asked us to recognize the Jewishness of
Israel. From our point of view, they can call themselves anything they
Muhamed Shtayyeh, a PA negotiator and top Fatah representative,
said on Thursday that it was “premature” to talk about the idea of land swaps
Shtayyeh said that any land swaps should come as a result of
negotiations and not as a “down payment” made by the Arabs on behalf of the
He told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency that any
future land swaps should be equal in size and value.
“For each centimeter
we give, we should get a centimeter in return,” he stressed.
expressed concern that Israel would interpret the Arab proposal as permission to
annex settlement blocs in the West Bank.
“This is a dangerous matter
because we consider all settlements to be illegal and should be removed as an
obstacle to peace,” he added.
The Fatah representative said that the Arab
proposal was not “helpful” because it is being seen as a “down payment” to
“We want Israel to give,” he said. “The Arabs are not required to
give. I don’t believe that the Arab Peace Initiative [of 2002] should be
changed. For us, we don’t agree to giving Palestinian lands as a down
Shtayyeh explained that the proposed land swaps was
unacceptable to the Palestinians in the way it was presented to
“We are talking about border adjustments wherever required,” he
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