PA voices support for land swap proposal

Announcement in response to proposal of 2-state solution based on 1967 lines with possible minor land swaps; no comment from Abbas.

Kerry with Arab League delegation 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Kerry with Arab League delegation 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday voiced support for an Arab League proposal for land swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
The announcement came in response to a declaration by an Arab League delegation that met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington earlier this week.
Following the meeting, the head of the delegation, Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, talked about the possibility of a land swap between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said that there was nothing new with the Arab League stance on the issue of land swaps.
The Arab delegation, he said, "presented the official Palestinian position. Upon Israel's unequivocal acceptance of the two-state solution on the 1967 border, the State of palestine as a sovereign country might consider minor agreed border modifications equal in size and quality, in the same geographical area, and that do not harm Palestinian interests.
Erekat said that the Arab League delegation ratified the Arab Peace Initiative, which has been endorsed by 57 Arab and Muslim countries.
He said that the peace plan provides of a comprehensive regional solution based on Israeli implementation of international law in exchange for full normalization with the rest of the region.
"Israeli rejection of this initiative shows once again that the Israeli government lacks of a peace peace plan," Erekat added. "Rather, it is fully engaged in further colonization and attacks against palestinian rights and regional stability."
PA President Mahmoud Abbas avoided commenting on the Arab League's proposal for a land swap.
Abbas, who is currently visiting Austria, in the past did not rule out the possibility of minor shifts" in the future border between Israel and a Palestinian state.
Speaking to reporters in Vienna after meeting with Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Abbas said that ongoing construction in the settlements and the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails were an obstacle to achieving peace.
Reiterating his commitment to the two-state solution, Abbas said that he wasn't setting pre-conditions for the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
"The ball is now in the Israeli court," Abbas added, without elaborating.
"We talked [with the Austrian president] about the dangers of settlements in the Palestinian territories, especially in Jerusalem," he said. "I also clarified the exceptional situation of Palestinian prisoners who are suffering behind Israeli bars."
Abbas said he was committed to achieving reconciliation with Hamas and forming a unity government to prepare for new presidential and parliamentary elections within three months.
A PA official in Ramallah said that the Palestinians were fully coordinated with the other members of the Arab League, whose representatives met with Kerry in Washington.
The official pointed out that PA Foreign Minister Riyad Malki was among the Arab League ministers who met with Kerry.
Asked whether the PA had been notified in advance of the Arab League's support for land swaps between the Palestinians and Israel, the official said: "This is an old idea that was discussed with previous Israeli prime ministers. President Abbas has stated in the past that he does not rule out the possibility of small changes along the border."
But while the PA leadership supported the land swap idea, the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP]group condemned the proposal.
The group accused the Arab foreign ministers of "begging" the US to resume the peace process between the PA and Israel.
"The Palestinians don't need anyone to make concessions on their behalf," the PFLP said in response to the land swap proposal. "No one authorized the Arab delegation to voluntarily give up Palestinian lands. We condemn this proposal as an attempt to legitimize settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in violation of international laws and the Geneva Fourth Convention."
Another radical group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine [DFLP], also condemned the land swap idea and accused Qatar of seeking to liquidate the Palestinian issue.
Mohamed Jadallah, a senior member of the DFLP, said that Qatar was seeking to take over the Arab League in order to serve US interests in the region. "Qatar has bought the Arab countries with its money and stolen their political decision," he said.
Jadallah claimed that Qatar was working toward bypassing the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative by offering to relinquish control over Palestinian territories.