lundi 27 mars 2017

Israel's false narrative on land swaps

Le faux récit d'"israel" sur les échanges de territoires
The idea of future land swaps has been used to justify expanding Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, analysts say.

Experts deny the suggestion by pro-Israeli groups that land swaps are some kind of magic
 formula for achieving a viable two-state solution [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

by
Ben White

Ben White is a freelance journalist, writer and activist, specialising in Palestine/Israel.

When Israeli opposition leader and Labour Party chairman Isaac Herzog published a plan for kick-starting the peace process last month, one of his stated goals was to "save the settlement blocs" - areas of the West Bank where Israel has built clusters of settlements, including larger towns.

Settlement blocs are often referred to by politicians and pundits alike, but there is no common understanding about precisely what the term means.

"From Israel's point of view, I think the term is intentionally vague and amorphous," Daniel Levy, president of the US/Middle East Project think-tank, told Al Jazeera. "Absent clear delineation, it is a meaningless formulation, and on the vast majority of occasions when it is loosely referred to, there is a deliberate absence of delineation."

In negotiations over the past two decades, Israel has demanded that West Bank settlement blocs become part of Israeli territory in any final deal, typically as part of a land swap in which certain areas within Israel become part of a future Palestinian state. But on the rare occasions when talks have reached the details stage, there have been significant hurdles.

"The blocs encompass large swaths of land and, depending on the negotiators, can often be 10 or more percent of the West Bank," Diana Buttu, a lawyer and former adviser to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) negotiators, told Al Jazeera.

Palestinian maps presented in various rounds of negotiations have allowed Israel to annex some two or three percent of the occupied West Bank. The best Israeli offer, territorially speaking, came via Ehud Olmert in 2008 - 6.5 percent, at close to a one-to-one swap - but that was w...

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