Netanyahu wanted Egypt to give Palestinians some land in Sinai: report

DAILY SABAH WITH AP
ISTANBUL
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Obama (C) participates in a farewell ceremony with Israeli PM Netanyahu (R) and President Shimon Peres (L) in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2013. (Reuters Photo)
Obama (C) participates in a farewell ceremony with Israeli PM Netanyahu (R) and President Shimon Peres (L) in Tel Aviv, March 22, 2013. (Reuters Photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked former U.S. President Barack Obama to consider a "two-state solution" plan to annex its West Bank settlements in return for giving Palestinians land in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, the daily Haaretz reported Thursday.

According to the report, quoting four unnamed high-ranking former U.S. officials, Netanyahu raised the issue with Obama and then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry -- on more than one occasion in 2014.

The Israeli PM told Obama and Kerry that he believed it was possible to persuade Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi to accept the plan, the Haaretz said.

"The Obama administration heard directly from Egypt that it would not accept the idea and had come to the conclusion that neither would the Palestinians," the newspaper reported.

According to the unnamed U.S. officials, Netanyahu's plan did not call for a Palestinian state in Sinai per se, but rather for the creation of a Palestinian state "in some parts of West Bank" with the Palestinians being compensated for Israel's annexation of West Bank land with territory in the Sinai Peninsula.

Netanyahu's office, for its part, dismissed the newspaper's claims as "not accurate."

Notably, Egyptian state daily Al-Ahram quoted al-Sisi in 2014 as saying he would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state in the strategic peninsula.

However, similar plans were reported to be considered again in U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan for the conflict. Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that a peace plan drafted by Trump's son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner, also included land exchange in the Sinai.

The White House strongly denied the reports, calling them "a mix of ill-informed speculation and utter nonsense." Washington said the plan "will benefit Israelis and Palestinians and will be revealed when it is done and the time is right."

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