The idea of territorial or population swaps as part of a final-status agreement with the Palestinians is not new. Many have previously propounded it, whether as part of an honest effort at resolving the conflict, or as a way to whitewash population transfer. A new proposal put forth by Prime Minister Netanyahu would transfer the Arab villages of Wadi Ara — adjacent to the northern West Bank — to the Palestinian Authority, in exchange for annexing the settlements to Israel. A typical Bibi-esque response to weighty political questions.
One can easily dismiss the proposal as an attempt by the prime minister to placate the Israeli public, in light of the mass funeral for the three men from Umm al-Fahm (in the Wadi Ara area) who killed two Border Police officers at Al-Aqsa two weeks ago — an act that, in their eyes may have earned them a ticket to heaven, but left behind a nightmare of violence, confusion, and embarrassment. It is possible that Netanyahu, as opposed to his minister Tzahi Hanegbi, did not want to threaten the Palestinians — even those in Israel — with a third Nakba, and thus decided on the more sophisticated route of territorial swaps, in which Israel will give up on sovereignty in the Wadi Ara area (known as “The Triangle”), including Umm al-Fahm.
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