Israel's Maariv newspaper quoted on Friday sources close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office saying that the US administration favours a recent proposal by Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman suggesting that the Arab communities in Israel be transferred to a future Palestinian state in exchange for retaining Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank.
Lieberman is not the only Israeli official to endorse the proposal either. The newspaper further explained that: "Senior officials in the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition revealed on Thursday that Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni both support Lieberman's proposal and have adopted it as part of the Israeli position in the peace talks with the Palestinians. According to the coalition officials, neither Livni nor Netanyahu have publicly remarked on Lieberman's proposal, and this is not by chance or coincidence. Likud Party officials also said on Thursday that Netanyahu may have already endorsed Lieberman's views regarding the negotiations, including the demographic dimensions, which means shifting the Palestinian residents in Israel over to Palestinian control."
Israel's Army Radio reported on Thursday that Netanyahu intends to include the Beit Eil settlement in the central West Bank among the Jewish communities that will remain a part of Israel in any prospective peace deal, in exchange for financial compensation to be paid to the Palestinians.
Maariv newspaper also quoted Likud party officials saying that the "land swap" had been previously proposed during the rule of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. However, at that time the talk was only about transferring a few villages inside the Green Line over to Palestinian control, whereas the population to be transferred today is much larger.
The newspaper noted that the proposal has attracted the attention of US officials involved in the peace negotiations as they believe the idea has some logic to it, thus should not be excluded.