Leaked confidential documents published by Al-Jazeera and the Guardian reveal that during her tenure as Israeli foreign minister in Ehud Olmert's government, Tzipi Livni pressed for the "transfer" of some of Israel's own Arab citizens into a future Palestinian state as part of a land-swap deal that would exchange Palestinian villages now in Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
In January 2008, according to the secret Palestinian records of more than a decade of failed peace talks, former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei told Livni that the Palestinians would never accept the transfer of Israeli Arabs. But Livni, who currently heads the opposition, presented the offer again in June of that year.
The current leader of the Kadima party explained privately that there are "some Palestinian villages located on both sides of the 1967 line about which we need to have an answer, such as Beit Safafa, Barta'a, Baqa al-Sharqiya and Baqa al-Gharbiya," the Guardian reported.
Earlier, she had made clear that such swaps also meant "the swap of the inhabitants," but Palestinian negotiators rejected the proposal, according to documents revealed by the British newspaper.
During the talks, Livni said, "Israel is a Jewish state, and I want to stress that our nation is the Jewish nation."
College in Baqa al-Gharbiya (Photo: Yaffa Raziel)
On Sunday it was revealed that the Palestinian negotiators were willing to concede sections of east Jerusalem to Israeli control as part of a final peace deal, and the memos released on Monday revealed they also agreed that only 10, 000 refugees and their families – out of a total refugee population exceeding 5 million – could return to Israel as part of a peace settlement.
The leaked confidential documents revealed that PLO leaders also accepted Israel's demand to define itself as an explicitly Jewish state, in sharp contrast to their public position.
According to the documents, in 2008 then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested that Palestinian refugees could be resettled in South America. "Maybe we will be able to find countries that can contribute in kind," she said, "Chile, Argentina, etc."
While chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for an extension of the construction moratorium in the West Bank racist, the secret documents show that his position was quite different behind closed doors.
"If you want to call your state a Jewish state, you can call it that," he told Livni at the time, "Just as Iran and Saudi Arabia define themselves as Islamic or Arab."
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