Abbas OK with Israeli army in West Bank during three-year transition

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would accept Israeli soldiers in the West Bank for a three-year transition period following a peace deal with Israel.

Abbas, in a videotaped interview in Arabic with the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, said that whoever proposes a transition period of 10 or 15 years “is not serious about an agreement,” according to The New York Times.

The interview was screened Tuesday at the conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

In the run-up to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s  presentation of a framework agreement, Israeli and Palestinian officials have been clear in their opinions on future borders and who would patrol them under a two-state solution.

“The borders of the Palestinian state will eventually be in the hands of Palestinians, not the Israeli army,” Abbas said in the interview, adding that he would be willing to allow a third party, such as NATO, to take over after the transition period.

Israel has called for an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley even after the formation of a Palestinian state to last for many years following the implementation of a peace deal.

Also Tuesday, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies, Amos Yadlin, called for Israel to withdraw unilaterally from 85 percent of the West Bank if the current peace process with the Palestinians fails. Yadlin said Israel should retain control over the large settlement blocs and military control over the Jordan Valley.  He said there is “a low chance of success” in the Israelis and Palestinians reaching an agreement.

Yadlin, the former Israel chief of military intelligence, also said that 2013 was “a very good year for the national security of the State of Israel.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told the conference that a Palestinian state next to Israel would not be a reliable neighbor from a security standpoint.

In his speech to the conference Tuesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was not bound to Kerry’s framework document. He also said that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state to reach a final agreement.

 

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