Deputy Prime Minister Chaim Ramon in Knesset
Deputy Prime Minister Chaim Ramon in Knesset

Speaking with IDF Army Radio on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chaim Ramon acknowledged that Israel would continue construction within some of the larger Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria. However, he added, parts of pre-1967 Israel will be

Blocs of communities, Ramon said, will ultimately be formally annexed to Israel.

relinquished to the Palestinian Authority in return for those settlement blocs retained.

Those blocs of communities, Ramon said, will ultimately be formally annexed to Israel. The Deputy Prime Minister further acknowledged that the partition wall cutting through Judea and Samaria - which is touted as a security barrier to prevent incursion by PA suicide bombers - is to be the future border of a Palestinian state.

A swap with the PA of post-1967 Israeli territories in exchange for areas inside pre-1967 Israel not a new concept; however, Ramon's statements were the first public endorsement of the idea by a highly placed government figure. The Geneva Initiative, a non-governmental model agreement negotiated by prominent left-wing Israeli figures and PLO representatives in 2003, proposed a 1:1 exchange of 2.2% of the land of Judea and Samaria. Ramon cited no figures for his proposed territorial exchange.

"The Palestinians won't say that this is good," Ramon told IDF Army Radio, "but there is no doubt the Palestinians understand that, at the conclusion of the peace process, the settlement blocs will be under Israeli sovereignty in return for a land swap."

Despite public statements by second-tier officials, the PA has never acknowledged the right of Jews to live anywhere in eastern Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or Gaza.

In August, rumors of proposals for a land swap that would include Israel turning over several Arab-majority cities inside pre-1967 Israel prompted the Prime Minister's Office to declare: "Such a plan has not been considered, nor is it being raised for discussion in any forum."

Earlier this month, in a previous IDF Army Radio interview, Deputy Prime Minister Ramon said that, while Israel will not give up its recently announced 307-home building project in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, Israel cannot expect to receive American support unless it gives away parts of Jerusalem to the PA. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel cede the eastern half of the capital. Ramon further suggested that Israel should keep Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and give away Arab ones in order to maintain a stronger Jewish majority.

"This is the right thing to do," Ramon said. "This way we will not be drawn into an unnecessary annexation especially when we need the backing of the United States."

Israel already annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem in 1967, following liberation of the city from Jordanian occupation in the Six Day War.