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      US Think Tank: 'The Impossible is Achievable' in Negotiations

      A US think tank proposes Israel-PA land swaps to create a new Arab state, ceding Hevron; analysts say Obama may make a similar suggestion.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 1/23/2011, 6:33 PM / Last Update: 1/23/2011, 10:51 PM

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      A United States think tank is continuing to push ideas for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, despite a freeze on negotiations. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy has released a set of maps suggesting possible territorial compromise in Judea and Samaria, stating, “The impossible is indeed achievable.”

      A series of interactive maps created by David Makovsky, Sheli Chabon and Jennifer Logan shows suggested land swaps, and the names and populations of Jewish and Arab communities. The territorial compromise approaches total capitulation by Israel. 

      One proposal would see Israel keep just five percent of the land in Judea and Samaria, a suggested compromise between what the Olmert administration is believed to have offered PA Chairman Abbas in 2008, without Israeli voter or knesset approvial, and Abbas' demand for control over at least 98% of the region.

      Makovsky explained that he aimed to keep PA territory contiguous, and to provide the PA with territory equal in size to all the land east of the 1949 armistice line, while including as many Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as possible in Israel.

      The proposed land swap would see Israel give up Hevron, the biblical city that is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Judaism's second most holy site.

      In addition, approximately 60,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria would lose their homes. Israel has yet to resettle many of the 9,000 Israelis forcibly removed from their homes in the 2005 Disengagement, let alone find them employment.

      The proposal relates only to the subject of territory in Judea and Samaria, and does not address other major sticking points in negotiations, such as the PA's demand that Israel allow millions of descendants of Arabs who fled during the War of Independence to “return” to Israel. Makovsky said his goal is to stimulate thinking, not to provide a complete solution.

      Analysts suggested that the proposal could aid U.S. President Barack Obama by opening the door to U.S. proposals for the borders of a PA state, even without negotiations.

      Israel and the PA resumed negotiations in 2010 after months, but the PA left the table shortly afterward, after Israel refused its demand to forbid Jewish home-building east of the 1949 armistice line.

      Former MK Benny Elon has suggested another plan for ending the conflict, called the Israel Initiative. According to the plan,  Jordanian citizenship would be granted to Palestinian Authority Arabs who would remain in their villages in Judea and Samaria. Jewish Israeli citizens would also remain in their communities in the area, which would be under Israeli sovereignty. The so-called PA Arab "refugee camps" would be dismantled as well. Israel and Jordan would work together to administer local affairs. The majority of Jordan's population consists of Palestinian Arabs, although the rulership is Bedouin.