The office of Israel's prime minister has denied reports that Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to evacuate thousands of Jewish settlers from their homes on illegal settlements as part of a final peace deal with the Palestinians.
Maariv newspaper cited sources close to the negotiations which claimed that the settlements will be divided into three categories; the large blocs will be annexed to Israel while some will fall under Palestinian sovereignty or be evacuated, by force if necessary. The paper also claimed that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's relatively moderate positions over the Palestinian issue and his frequent communication with his US counterpart, John Kerry, have arisen out of recognition that Netanyahu will make real concessions to push the negotiations forward.
According to its chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority will not allow any settlers to remain in a future Palestinian state. "Those who demand to leave the settlers in their settlement blocs are actually saying that they do not want a Palestinian state," he argued.
Netanyahu slammed the Palestinian position by saying it represents "ethnic cleansing" of the Jewish population in the West Bank and pointing out that many Arab citizens live in the State of Israel. This, of course, is a ridiculous argument, given that the settlers are, by definition, migrants in someone else's land whereas the Palestinians living in what is now Israel are on the land in which their families have lived for generations.