News / Middle East

Arab League Backs Israeli-Palestinian Land Swaps

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) arrives with Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani (2nd L) at a meeting with members of the Arab League at Blair House in Washington Apr. 29, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) arrives with Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani (2nd L) at a meeting with members of the Arab League at Blair House in Washington Apr. 29, 2013.
VOA News
Israel is welcoming a signal from Arab League nations supporting the idea of using land swaps to negotiate future Israeli-Palestinian borders.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani said after a meeting Monday between Arab League officials and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that his delegation backs mutually agreed "comparable" and "minor" land swaps.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday that such a change could allow Palestinians to "make the needed compromises" to further negotiations.  She also said the statement is a message to the Israeli people that the peace process involves not just talking with the Palestinians, but also the wider region.  

The Qatari prime minister's comments appear to represent a change in the Arab League's decade-old peace proposal for Israel.  That initiative has called on Israel to withdraw from all land occupied in the 1967 Middle East War and return to its pre-1967 boundaries in return for a full peace with all Arab League members.

This latest Arab position also appears to reflect an endorsement of President Barack Obama's 2011 peace guidelines that called for Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate their borders on the basis of the 1967 lines with "mutually agreed swaps."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly has called on Israel to accept the 1967 lines as a basis for peace talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said a return to those lines would leave Israel with indefensible borders, and he has rejected setting any preconditions for talks. He also has declined to make any public comment about the idea of swapping parts of pre-1967 Israel in return for annexing major Jewish settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians claim all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for a future state.

Vice President Joe Biden joined Kerry's meeting with the Arab League delegation, which included senior ministers from six Arab governments.

VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns said Biden's presence at the talks was aimed at sending a message to the parties.

"It is meant to show the Arab ministers the importance that the Obama administration places on this [Arab peace] initiative, if they had any doubt, as declared by the president himself on his visit to the Middle East [last month]. He left Secretary Kerry there to have more talks, and the secretary has since returned to the region," he said.  "It is to show the seriousness of the approach and how much the Obama administration is looking to the Arab League to not only support that process but to be an active player in it."

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs