Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked the Obama Administration to consider a plan that would give Palestinians land in the Sinai in return for the West Bank, Haaretz has revealed.
According to anonymous US officials, the Israeli government approached then President Barak Obama and Vice President John Kerry with the proposal on multiple occasions, which would allow Israel to annexe massive areas of the West Bank
"We all thought this idea was a waste of time," one of the officials said. "We knew it would be a complete non-starter for the Palestinians – why would they trade agricultural lands in the West Bank, close to their largest cities, for sand dunes in Sinai?"
Netanyahu reportedly told the US that Egypt would be sympathetic to granting the Palestinians land, but after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi refused, the US dropped the idea.
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Israel has denied the account, with the prime minister's office stating: "This story is not true."
The US sources noted that the plan is similar to recent proposals by Israel and the Trump Administration, which is currently finalising a second peace deal; Trump's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner has reportedly included land swaps in the Sinai.
Last month, Saudi Arabia also caused widespread anger after it emerged that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman proposed the village of Abu Dis as the future capital of Palestine instead of occupied East Jerusalem.
In the aftermath of Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Saudi Arabia was also criticised for its lack of protest at the designation.
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