Israel 'negotiated with Jordan' for Syria land swap

Israel 'negotiated with Jordan' for Syria land swap
A four-way land-swap deal proposed by Israel in 2009 could have most of the occupied Golan Heights go back to Syria.
2 min read
07 June, 2018
Israel's plans could have seen most of the Heights returned to Syria [Getty]
Israel offered a four-way land-swap agreement to Syria in 2009, involving both Jordan and Saudi Arabia, said a former Israeli national security advisor on Wednesday.

Uzi Arad said that the agreement included the Golan Heights, and would have allowed most of Israeli towns in the illegally-occupied Syrian territories to remain in place, a proposal rejected by Damascus.

The international land swap initiated by Arad, would have seen Jordan give Syria land along the shared border - equivalent to what Israel would retain in the Golan.

Jordan would also receive a 10-kilometre strip of land south of the Aqaba resort from Saudi Arabia, who would receive a similar stretch of land from Jordan alongside their shared border.

The idea - which was not presented to Saudi Arabia - found approval in Jordan.

Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, called for by Knesset member Yair Lapid,  Arad said that, "Netanyahu ran indirect negotiations with [Bashar] Assad, the psychopathic son, over leaving the Golan Heights".

"The unarguable fact is that four Israeli prime ministers - two from Labor and two from Likud - negotiated to leave the Golan Heights," Arad said. "We might have forgotten about it, but Assad has all the documents, some American, in his palace."

The conference sought to call for international recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights - a claim contested by Syria.

Israel has a rare opportunity to achieve the recognition of Palestinian and Syrian lands it illegally seize, said Lapid - starting with the US.

"I speak to you, US President Donald Trump, from the Israeli Knesset: after your courageous move for Israel, in recognising Jerusalem as our capital and moving the embassy, now acknowledge Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights," said Lapid.

Earlier in the year, Trump broke with decades of US policy by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and choosing to transfer the US embassy to the contested city.

Trump's decision caused international condemnation and sparked protests across the Arab and Islamic world. The embassy move on May 14, which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba ("the Catastrophe"), saw over 61 Palestinians killed and thousands injured in the same day.