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Report: Israel offers land swaps to annex settlement blocs

Jan. 1, 2014 2:23 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 3, 2014 7:31 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel has asked the United States to consider a land swap deal that would give Palestine a section of land in the Triangle area adjacent to the Green Line in exchange for keeping settlement blocs in the West Bank, Israeli media said Wednesday.

Israeli daily Maariv reported that recent talks between the US and Israel have involved suggestions to cede to a future Palestinian state areas of the Triangle -- a cluster of Palestinian towns in Israel's Central District -- in order to include West Bank settlements within the boundaries of Israel.

The discussions were not an official part of the main talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry, the report said.

Israeli officials are reportedly exploring the logistics of the plan, including the question of what would happen to the current Triangle residents' Israeli citizenship.

The Triangle area is a concentration of Palestinian towns and villages in Israel adjacent to the Green Line. Approximately 300,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel live in the area.

Palestinians make up 20 percent of Israel's population.

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the United States after nearly three years of impasse.

Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of housing units in illegal settlements since peace talks began.

More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
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