Land swap proposal not official - FM

2010-09-20 19:07

Prague – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in Prague on Monday his plan to push for swapping territories for people in peace talks with Palestinians was his "personal view", not his government's position.

On Sunday, Lieberman proposed the Palestinians should take his country's 1.3 million Arabs and let Israel keep its West Bank settlements instead of seeking a "land for peace" solution.

"I want to stress it's my personal view. It's not the official position of our government," he said on Monday after meeting his Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country is one of Israel's staunchest allies.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders this month renewed direct peace talks after a gap of nearly two years and have pledged to seek agreement within 12 months.

The phrase "land for peace" refers to the concept of Israel withdrawing from the Palestinian territories it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war in return for an end to the drawn-out conflict.

"I don't think the idea that we will establish a homogeneous Palestinian state without one Jew and that Israel will become a bi-national state with more than 20% of minorities can be a real, stable, long-term solution," Lieberman added in Prague.

The maverick nationalist has campaigned in the past for Israel's Arab citizens to be stripped of their nationality unless they take an oath of allegiance to the Jewish state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says any treaty must include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Palestinians oppose the demand, fearing that it could prejudge the future of refugees seeking to return to old homes now in Israel.