After meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Arab states appear to have softened conditions for Israeli-Palestinian peace. A land swap could now form part of any deal.
Speaking on behalf of an Arab League delegation, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister, raised the possibility of land swaps. Talk of adjusting the bargain came after a group of Arab officials and US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Israeli-Palestinian peace Monday.
“This news is very positive,” Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Army Radio on Tuesday. “In the tumultuous world around … it could allow the Palestinians to enter the room and make the needed compromises and it sends a message to the Israeli public that this is not just about us and the Palestinians.”
Kerry has expressed hope of reviving talks and ensuring that a new peace process would have the backing of the Arab states, which could provide an incentive for compromise by offering Israel a comprehensive deal. It remains unclear whether US President Barack Obama will decide to back a major effort.
“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,” Kerry told reporters after the meeting at the Blair House in Washington, DC.
The Bahraini, Egyptian, Jordanian and Qatari foreign ministers as well as officials from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League attended Monday’s talks. US Vice President Joe Biden also made an appearance.
Rejected by Israel when it was originally proposed at a Beirut summit in 2002, the original plan still has obstacles to overcome. Core issues include borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the future of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem.
mkg/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)