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Few people I know believe any more in the old “land for peace” formula for Middle East peace. There’s simply no more trust among Israelis that the Palestinians could deliver that peace even if it were agreed to, or that the step would be little more than a waiting game for more land. On the Palestinian side, the Israelis have gobbled up too much of the West Bank with mostly permanent settlements at this point and some of that land simply cannot practically be given back. How to breatk the impassed?
Land for land. A new proposal is gaining momentum that the Israelis give back an equivalent percentage of land within in Israel to compensate for the land within the 1967 occupied territories that it has claimed. Interesting. Perhaps the most significant development is that this proposal is being shepherded by Simon Peres, proof that what I blogged about before I came over to Beliefnet — namely that I suspected he wanted to make the largely ceremonial postion of president more substantive — is proving correct.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is examining a new framework for peace in which Israel will propose transferring to the Palestinian state areas equivalent to 100 percent of the territories conquered in 1967.
Israel will suggest to the Palestinians to conduct negotiations for adequate territorial compensation from Israel’s sovereign territory, in exchange for settlement blocs amounting to about 5 percent of the West Bank’s area.
Israel is also examining various options of exchanging settlement blocs with Arab community blocs within Israel, in agreement with the residents. An agreement on this issue would enable Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, to remain in the coalition.
The new framework was presented to Olmert by President Shimon Peres, a few days after he entered the President’s Residence. It includes a timetable for negotiations for the final status agreement and implementing it, similar to the framework of the Peres-Abu Ala agreement reached at the end of 2001.
Olmert has not yet decided on his position regarding all the plan’s clauses, but apparently has not dismissed its main ideas.
Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas agreed Monday that cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would be expanded, in an effort to expedite progress in their talks for the establishment of the Palestinian state.

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