On Open Zion earlier this week, Dani Dayan argued that excitement over Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani’s declarations agreeing to land swaps as part of the Arab Peace Initiative was misplaced. According to Dayan, the correct Israeli response to the Arab proposal should be to dismiss the very idea of land swaps. Taking land swaps off the table would function to punish the Palestinians for their historic sins and as a mechanism that would enable the continuation of the settlement project, which Dayan deemed “rightful and “irreversible.”
First, it’s worth dismissing Dayan’s digressions into the realm of historical and political fantasy out of hand—most settlements are not “rightful” according to various national and international laws nor are they at all “irreversible,” given that the Israeli government continues to function as the primary driver sustaining them. Moreover, contrary to Dayan’s claims, this is not a new Arab demand. The Palestinian position has long been that swaps must be both “minor” and “comparable” in size. More interesting than what Dayan got wrong is what he got right: the “new” Arab position regarding land swaps was, in and of itself, not terribly exciting and the Arab Peace Initiative (API), in the way it moderated its language, already implied the notion of land swaps. What was new was the Qatari PM’s timing.
To read the rest of Ben-Sasson's piece on Open Zion, click here.