Lieberman: Forget Land for Peace

Lieberman is skeptical on ceding land in exchange for peace, proposes Israel and PA swap territory, populations.

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 9:24 PM

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Israel news photo: Flash 90 / archive

Instead of trying to base negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on the concept of “land for peace,” as it has in the past, Israel should focus on exchanging territory and populations, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said this week. The minister spoke in an interview for Middle East Magazine, on Voice of Israel state-run radio.

Lieberman has touted his idea of swapping land with the PA for some time, and says that an estimated 70% of Israelis agree with his approach. He recently stated that his party, Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), would object to the Kadima party joining the government unless Kadima were to be willing to abandon the “land for peace” approach.

The land and population exchange concept has not yet been adopted by the Netanyahu administration, Lieberman admitted. He attributed the government's continued allegiance to the “land for peace” approach to the presence in the cabinet of ministers who, according to Lieberman, are afraid to make controversial decisions.

Despite that hurdle, the government is closer than ever to adopting a new approach to the Israel-PA conflict, he said.

Population transfer between Israel and the PA would benefit the PA as well as Israeli, Lieberman stated. If the PA were to take control of heavily Arab cities in the eastern Galilee, it would gain a relatively educated and financially stable populace with a developed Palestinian identity, he explained.

Israel's next step should be to hold a national referendum on the subject of population and territory exchange, the foreign minister said. If the idea is proven to enjoy popular support, he continued, Israel should present the idea to the international community and bring it up in discussions with the PA.