Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has suggested to Secretary of State John Kerry that a U.S.-led NATO force be created to patrol a future Palestinian state – including in Jerusalem – indefinitely, Abbas told The New York Times.
In an interview with the Times over the weekend, Abbas said he would agree to a demilitarized Palestinian state and that Israeli troops would have to completely withdraw from Palestinian territory after five years.
Jewish communities in the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, would also be emptied over the same timetable, according to the Palestinian leader’s vision.
Palestinian security forces would be responsible for policing the cities and towns, but NATO would be in charge of preventing weapons smuggling and terrorism directed against Israel, he said.
Abbas said that the American-led NATO troops could be positioned “for a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders, but also on the western borders, everywhere.”
“The third party can stay. They can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us,” Abbas told the Times.
“Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?” Abbas asked.
Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel told Israel’s Army Radio on Monday that Abbas’s proposal is out of the question.
“I think the plan he proposes is impossible to implement. It will not bring security to Israel, it will not bring peace to Israel, and it is unacceptable to me,” Ariel said. “One who suggests removing 300,000 to 400,000 Jews from their homes is not offering peace.”
“Those who don’t recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state do not offer us peace. That is a euphemism I do not suggest anyone buy,” Ariel added.
Asked if he would recognize Israel as a Jewish state – a core Israeli demand – Abbas told the Times, “This is out of the question.”
Kerry has been working on gaining agreement from Israeli and Palestinian negotiators for an interim peace framework leading to a comprehensive peace agreement to end the conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that under a future arrangement, Israeli forces would have to remain on a “security border” in the Jordan Valley to prevent terrorists from crossing into Israel from the east. Evolving regional conflicts which have drawn thousands of foreign jihadi fighters to the neighborhood have heightened Israeli concerns about potential future threats.
Asked about the Abbas proposals, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the Times that “there are many ideas being proposed from both the Israelis and the Palestinians, but it is premature to make any predictions about the final contents of a framework.”