You have caught, I am sure, the highlighting of the term "land-swap" by President Obama and again by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she noted the other day:
We believe that progress in the Middle East peace process is more urgent than ever. As a strong friend to Israelis and Palestinians, we say time is running out for a two-state solution, and the initiative must be seized now. And I particularly welcome President Obama’s clear message that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on 1967 lines with agreed land swaps.
This "swap" concept, actually, thing has been around and is not new - but whether it is an "agreed" item is something else.
This Arab commentator, founder and president of the Palestine Land Society, thinks it''s a scam:
...The scam proposed by Olmert today has several precedents: the armistice with Jordan in March-April 1949 stipulated that Jordan has a right to exchange the land ceded to Israel with other land in Al-Fator (Bissan District) and in Al Khalil (Hebron) district. Guarantees were given that Israel would pay the cost of a new road between Qalqilia and Tulkarim in order to restore the connection between them after the compromise of the territories noted above. The Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty revived it in 1994, although we shouldn''t forget that Jordan also simply took land when it "annexed" the West Bank (part of the area that had been designated by the Partition Plan for an Arab State), along with East Jerusalem, in 1950. Here is a relevant section, for example, from the treaty:
ANNEX I (b) - The Naharayim/Baqura Area
The two Parties agree that a special regime will apply to the Naharayim/Baqura area ("the area") on a temporary basis, as set out in this Annex. For the purpose of this Annex the area is detailed in Appendix IV. Recognising that in the area which is under Jordan''s sovereignty with Israeli private land ownership rights and property interests ("land owners") in the land comprising the area ("the land") Jordan undertakes: to grant without charge unimpeded freedom of entry to, exit from land usage and movement within the area to the land-owners and to their invitees or employees and to allow the land-owners freely to dispose of their land in accordance with applicable Jordanian law;...to take all necessary measures to protect and prevent harassment of or harm to any person entering the area under this Annex; to permit with the minimum of formality, uniformed officers of the Israeli police force access to the area for the purpose of investigating crime or dealing with other incidents solely involving the landowners, their invitees or employees. Recognising Jordanian sovereignty over the area, Israel undertakes:not to carry out or allow to be carried out in the area activities prejudicial to the peace or security of Jordan;..., etc.That is a lot of verbiage for a land swap.
Then we had the Clinton proposals:
The idea of a land swap with the objective of fixing agreed-upon borders between Israel and a Palestinian state was proposed during the 2000 Camp David negotiations. The concept was introduced mainly to find a way out of the contradiction between the need to adhere to the legal borders of 1967 and the Israeli demand to take into consideration the reality created by the presence of Israeli settlements in occupied territory. At the time, the land swap idea related particularly to settlements adjacent to the 1967 borders, which include a relatively large number of Jewish settlers and infrastructure.
The Palestinian delegation, which was headed by the late Yasser Arafat, was willing to consider the idea as long as it allowed Palestinians to regain territory from the western side of the border that was equal in quantity and quality, a formula that has since been postulated a number of times.
And then Olmert got involved:
A set of talking points prepared by the NSU included a great deal of confusion about Olmert''s offer; the memo urged Abbas to ask for a copy of the map, and raised a number of questions about the territory swaps: How do you see it addressing our interests, especially as Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Har Homa and Efrat clearly prejudice contiguity, water aquifers, and the viability of Palestine? How do you see the specific areas that you suggested to swap from Israel to Palestine addressing our interest of swapping territory equal in size and value?
And it is referred to in a 2007 report:
The Palestinians are ready to yield parts of the West Bank to Israel if compensated with an equal amount of Israeli territory, the lead Palestinian negotiator told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. Ahmed Qureia, a former prime minister who has dealt with five Israeli prime ministers during 14 years of failed peacemaking, is trying again with No. 6, Ehud Olmert.
In 2008, Prof. Biger suggested a land swap map (see here) and here is a version of the "napkin map" and here''s a January 2011 suggestion. And see how the matter was discussed here:
...a proposal by Tzipi Livni in 2008 to transfer the Israeli Arab towns of Barta’a, Baka al-Garbiyeh, and Beit Safafa, situated along the Green Line, to Palestinian control. This approach, which has been publically disallowed by Kadima, has notable similarities with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s peace plan. This approach is based in the belief that if, in a two-state solution, Israel is to be the national homeland of the Jewish people and a Palestinian state is to be the national homeland of the Palestinians, the latter state should encompass the Palestinian population of Israel. In principle, this repartition of the land irrespective of the Green Line is consistent with most major Israeli political parties’ insistence that the state of Israel should include as many Israelis and as few Palestinians as possible.
But, as doctoral candidate Ariel Zellman there notes in part of the research he undertook this past year:
A September 2010 poll by An-Najah National University in Nablus revealed that Palestinian opposition to the idea of land exchanges, even in the context of a peace agreement, is considerable. In response to the question, “Do you accept the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with some land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian problem?” only 32.9% said yes while 62.9% said no. This contrasted to responses to the question, “Do you accept the creation of a Palestinian state on the area of the 1967 borders as a final solution for the Palestinian problem?” to which 52.5% said yes and 43.6% said no...a poll was conducted among Um Al-Fahm residents which indicated that only 11% supported the idea of joining a Palestinian state while 83% were opposed. In November 2007, the Arab Center for Applied Social Research conducted a poll in which 72% of respondents “definitely disagreed” with populated land exchange. A Saban Center poll conducted in late 2010 similarly indicated that 58% of Israeli Arabs are opposed to this plan. Meanwhile, Jerusalem Arabs indicated in a January 2011 Pechter Middle East poll that they too are profoundly ambivalent about joining a Palestinian state.
In last November, Fatah opposed the idea.
So, what are we to make of all this information? Can we be sure this "land-swap" idea is good and beneficial? Can we assume it is an agreed upon issue? What is everyone getting hyper about? Will land swaps work? Is it feasible?
Or is it another buzz word to beat Israel over the head?
Why is Obama fooling us?
More importantly, if the Arabs renewed their anti-Israel terror in 1964 following the defeat of the fedayen terrorism of the 1950s, when they founded the PLO (and what "Palestine" did they wish to ''liberate'' then when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were outside Israel''s 1949 armistice lines?) and then launched the first PLO attack on January 1, 1965, which led to the Six Days War, why do we need to "swap?" As aggressors, as the losing side, the Arabs have to give up land and Israel should not be required to do so? Land swap?
It''s a sweep of Israel.