Netanyahu was open to land swaps: WikiLeaks
Israeli PM's office issues clarification of diplomatic cable
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office is denying a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks in which he appears to support the notion of land swaps with the Palestinians.
The 2009 cable was written on Feb. 26, two weeks after Netanyahu was elected.
"Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there," the cable said.
But on Tuesday, Netanyahu's office said he meant only that he was willing to accept territorial compromises within the framework of a future peace deal.
"That was Netanyahu's open policy, that is his policy today and in the aforementioned meeting in February 2009 he did not voice any other position," the statement said. "Any other interpretation is incorrect and definitely does not represent the prime minister's position."
Netanyahu has been very careful to keep his positions on Israel's future borders very close to the vest.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Kurt Hoyer would not comment on the cable. He said the diplomat who signed off on it, Luis G. Moreno, had left Israel and could not be reached immediately.
Previous Israeli governments and the Palestinians have expressed support for the concept of trading West Bank land where Jewish settlements stand for Israeli territory. Netanyahu has not publicly voiced his opinion on this matter, though his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, favours redrawing Israel's borders to include settlements and exclude areas with large Arab populations.
Negotiations remain deadlocked over continued Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas the Palestinians claim for a future state along with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.