Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas told The New York Times he would be willing to allow a U.S.-led NATO force to patrol a Palestinian state for an indefinite amount of time.
Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlements could remain for five years from the state’s establishment, Abbas said in an interview with The New York Times published on Monday. The offer of five years is up from the three that he has previously offered.
Abbas also said that the Palestinian state would be demilitarized; that it would not have its own army, only a peace force.
The third party force will remain “to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us,” Abbas told New York Times reporter Jodi Rudoren and columnist Tom Friedman at his Ramallah headquarters.
“We will be demilitarized,” Abbas told the newspaper. “Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?”
He called recognizing Israel as a Jewish state “out of the question,” and pointed out that Jordan and Egypt did not sign anything to that effect when they signed peace treaties with Israel.
Abbas said that at the end of the nine months set aside for the peace talks, which will come in April, he would be willing to extend the negotiations, if progress is being made.JTA
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