US President Donald Trump could be eyeing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that would include transferring sections of the Sinai Desert from Egypt to a newly created Palestinian state, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported on Saturday.
The report comes one day before Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is expected to speak before the Saban Forum in Washington D.C. on US efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to the paper, Egypt would give up 720 kilometers in the area of Rafah and El Arish, where it links to the Gaza Strip along the Mediterranean Sea, thereby tripling the Gaza territory.
US president Trump meets with president of Egypt al Sisi , April 3, 2017 (REUTERS)
The Palestinians, in turn, would allow Israel to keep 12% of the West Bank in Area C. This would likely be the area within the boundaries of the security barrier, including blocs such as Ariel. Settlements outside the barrier, such as Ofra and Kiryat Arba also would remain in Israeli hands.
Israel, in turn, would give Egypt land in the Negev in the area of Nahal Paran.
Separately, Egypt would be allowed to dig a tunnel linking its territory to Jordan.
The idea of using parts of the Sinai Dessert for a Palestinian state was raised early in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s second term when he broached the idea to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. At the time, Mubarak rejected the offer, but said he would consider it as part of a wider deal.In February, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said Trump was looking at the possibility of using the Sinai Desert for a deal.Netanyahu has said that Trump’s team is thinking “out of the box” in its pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian deal, but he did not given any more details of what that entailed.