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Liberman’s land swap proposal shakes up peace talks

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman pulled out this week in perfect timing his 10-year-old plan for a land swap, which is both innovative and original and should give a boost to the stalemated peace talks.
An Israeli Arab woman sits holding a Palestinian flag during a protest to mark the right of return for refugees who fled their homes during the 1948 war that followed the creation of Israel, which celebrated its 62nd anniversary near the Israeli Arab village of Tira April 20, 2010.  REUTERS/Ammar Awad (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR2D20I
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Published about a decade ago, the plan by Israel’s incumbent Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for a land swap provoked a large public storm in Israel back in the day. Liberman, who at that time was construed to be a radical right-wing figure and an intransigent peace refusnik, told me in an interview (during which the plan was unearthed) that he would be willing to evict his home in the settlement of Nokdim in exchange for true peace. Declaring that he was not opposed to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, he asserted that Israel had no need for the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Achieving social cohesion between the right and the left in Israel, he added, was far more important than letting the political blocs in Israel hunker down behind their respective truths.

The plan he presented was both innovative and original. In the setting of the land swap with the Palestinian state, Liberman maintains his insistence that Israel hand over areas that are densely populated with Arab Israelis. He was referring to the Wadi Ara area that is home to some of the country’s largest Arab-Israeli towns, as well as to the Triangle, (including the towns of Taibe and Tira), which also consists of a large Arab population.

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