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Netanyahu planned to give Palestinians lands in Sinai in exchange for West Bank

12 January 2018 15:20

Former US officials say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the administration of former US President Barack Obama in late 2014 to consider a plan to offer Palestinian lands in the northern parts of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in exchange for annexing large swaths of the occupied West Bank.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, four US officials, told the Israeli Haaretz newspaper on Wednesday that Netanyahu raised the idea with Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry on a number of occasions.

According to the officials, who had direct knowledge of the relevant conversations, the Israeli premier told Obama and Kerry that he could convince Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to accept the plan.

However, when the US looked into the idea, they received a negative response from Egypt.

“It started shortly after the 2014 Gaza war,” one of the officials said. “Netanyahu came to meet Obama in the fall of 2014, and his pitch was basically: ‘John Kerry’s peace talks fell apart a few months ago, we just had a war, and now the peace process is stuck. So I want to offer you a different kind of idea.’”

“We all thought this idea was a waste of time,” one of the officials said. “We knew it would be a complete non-starter for the Palestinians – why would they trade agricultural lands in the West Bank, close to their largest cities, for sand dunes in Sinai?”

Netanyahu’s office denied the account.

The report came a few weeks after The New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had presented a plan along US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting in Riyadh.

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