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NATO-style force in Palestine?

Israel and Western peace mediators are discussing the possibility of deploying an international security force in territory the Palestinians want for a state.

The idea of a NATO-style force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was raised recently in Jerusalem talks ahead of the Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Annapolis, Md., Reuters reported Wednesday.

According to diplomats, foreign intervention may be the only way of bridging the divide between Israel’s demand for security in any transferred land and the Palestinian Authority’s current inability to provide it. Should the proposal prove feasible, Israel would likely want the intervention to be led by the United States.

Israel has long opposed the idea of admitting international troops to Palestinian areas, but has come around given the relative success of the expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon since last year’s war with Hezbollah.

“The idea of an international force in the Palestinian Authority areas is a preliminary idea,” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokeswoman said.

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