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Israeli officials welcome Arab League peace plan

JTA

May 1, 2013 | 9:27 am

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 22. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 22. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The Prime Minister's Office of Israel said it was ready to restart negotiations without preconditions after welcoming the Arab League's Middle East peace plan allowing for agreed-upon land swaps.

In a statement issued late Tuesday on behalf of Israeli diplomatic officials, the Prime Minister's Office said Israel “welcomed the support given by the Arab league delegation and the U.S. secretary of state to the diplomatic process.” It also said that Israel was ready to restart negotiations immediately without any preconditions, and that the “two sides can present their positions in the negotiations.”

The statement came after Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani, speaking on behalf of the Arab League, said Monday during a visit to Washington that the Arab countries favor a peace deal based on the 1967 borders, but would agree to "comparable" and "minor" land swaps on which the two sides agree.

In a meeting Wednesday with the senior management of the Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mention the Arab League statement. He did say, however, that an agreement with the Palestinians must be reached “that will prevent Israel from becoming a binational state, but will provide stability and security,” Haaretz reported, citing two unnamed ministry officials who attended the meeting.

The Arab League delegation met with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, who has visited the Middle East three times since taking his post.

Kerry has been working with the Arabs and Israelis to accept a modified version of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative offering Israel a comprehensive peace with the Arab countries in exchange for all land captured in 1967. Saudi Arabia introduced the initiative, which was accepted by the Arab League.

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