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Israel hails Arab League's stance on land swaps

  • Secretary of State John Kerry, sixth from left, meets the Arab League leaders lead by Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, fifth from right, at Blair House in Washington, Monday, April 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

JERUSALEM: Israel's lead peace negotiator Tzipi Livni Tuesday praised as "important" a concession by the Arab League that Israel and the Palestinians could trade land in a bid to move the peace process forward.

"This is very good news," she told army radio. "It's definitely an important step -- I welcome it."

"Let's talk about it -- we are ready for changes, something which will allow the Palestinians, I hope, to enter the (negotiating) room and make the necessary compromises," she said after Arab League representatives said for the first time they would accept the concept of land swaps in the context of an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.

"It also gives a message to Israeli citizens: it is no longer just us ... talking with the Palestinians, there is a group of Arab states who are saying: you reach an agreement with the Palestinians and we will make peace with you, we will have normalisation with you."

At a meeting in Washington on Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with top Arab League officials to discuss the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi proposal which would see 22 Arab countries normalising ties with Israel in return for a withdrawal from lands it occupied during the 1967 Six Day War.

Speaking after the talks, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim, who led the delegation, agreed that any deal should be based on a two-state solution with the borders defined by the lines which existed before June 4, 1967.

But he also expressed support for a proposal by US President Barack Obama for a "comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land" between Israelis and Palestinians to reflect the realities of the burgeoning communities on the ground.

 
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