Any peace agreement with the Palestinians must involve land swaps that put Israeli Arab towns under Palestinian control, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday.
Lieberman, who was speaking at an annual conference of Israeli ambassadors in Jerusalem, said he would support a peace deal with the Palestinians only if Israel exchanged the Israeli Arab towns in Wadi Ara (southeast of Haifa) and the area north east of Tel Aviv (known as the "Triangle") for equivalent territory in Judea and Samaria.
"Israel's [eastern] border would shift to Highway 6," Lieberman said, referring to the major north-south artery that skirts the pre-1967 borders and lies west of the Israeli Arab towns he mentioned.
"Without land swaps, I would not favor any deal and I made that clear. We are not talking about the transfer of populations like in the Disengagement Plan, when people were thrown out of their homes in 21 communities [as part of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria]. No one is going to be expelled and no one will have their property seized; everyone will get to stay where they are. The only difference is that the border will have shifted."
Lieberman warned that the influx of Palestinian refugees might overwhelm the new Palestinian state.
"We are talking about some 3 million refugees [currently living in Arab states] who will join the 2.4 million Palestinians already living in Palestinian areas." He stressed that under no circumstance would he allow Palestinians to enter Israel.
"Not even one Palestinian refugee would be granted the 'right of return.' It is clear that even if we let a small number in, this would put tremendous pressure on us. That is why I would reject their return even on a theoretical level," he said.
Lieberman stressed that he would support a "comprehensive and viable peace deal," and noted that it was important to continue the dialogue with the Palestinians.
"Despite my doubts, talking is important. Talking can lead to a more normal life. I appreciate U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts," he said.