WikiLeaks: Netanyahu – Yes to Land Swaps, No to Arab Immigration
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to give up Israeli land to the PA in return for major Jewish population centers in Judea and Samaria but drew the “red line” at the so-called “right of return,” according to diplomatic messages exposed by WikiLeaks.
Like most of the WikiLeaks revelations, the significance of the Prime Minister’s positions is that they now are direct quotes from Netanyahu rather than assumptions from “anonymous sources.” The idea of a land swap has been trumpeted by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and accepted by U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell.
Under the proposal, Israel would hand over to the Arabs some land from within Israel's 1949 borders in return for a Palestinian Authority state's recognition that areas such as Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim would be under Israeli sovereignty.
However, an Israeli official told reporters that in the Feb. 26, 2009 cable, dated two weeks after the Prime Minister was elected, "Netanyahu [only] expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there." He added that Prime Minister Netanyahu himself “never raised the issue of land swaps and the telegram does not quote him as saying so.”
The issue of immigration of foreign Arabs is called by the Arab world the “right of return,” a term similar to that used in Israel for the right of Jews around the world to immigrate and become citizens of Israel.
No serious Israeli leader has accepted the concept, which would in effect reduce Jews to a minority in the country as a result of the immigration of approximately five million Arabs now living in foreign countries. The Arab world says they should be eligible to live in Israel because they, their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents lived in the country before fleeing in 1948.
Arab armies had encouraged them to leave during the War for Independence, promising them they would return quickly after an expected annihilation of the small and fledgling Israeli army.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, according to a leaked cable, said he “would never allow a single Palestinian refugee to return to Israel. Israel, after all, was not asking for the right of Jews to return to Baghdad or Cairo. Israel will only have a peace partner when the Palestinians drop the right of return.”
He added that accepting Arab immigration and dividing the capital in Jerusalem “would only whet the appetite of radical Islam. The 1967 borders were not the solution since Israel was the only force blocking radical Islam's agenda of overrunning Jordan and Saudi Arabia."