President Abbas has proposed that US-led NATO forces be stationed indefinitely in a future Palestinian state, according to an interview with the New York Times on Feb. 2. Speaking about security arrangements from Ramallah, Abbas said a NATO force could be positioned at all borders, checkpoints and within Jerusalem for a "long time" after Israeli military forces eventually withdraw from the occupied territories. "The third party can stay. They can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us," Abbas told the Times. The president said that Israeli military forces could remain in the West Bank for up to five years and the removal of illegal settlers should be phased according to a similar timetable. Abbas insisted that the future Palestinian state would be demilitarized with only a police force.
The president said recognizing Israel as a Jewish state was "out of the question." Referring to possible future action, he said: "If I don't get my rights, now put your foot in my shoe—what should I do?"
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly a three year impasse. Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of housing units in illegal settlements since peace talks began.
Israeli officials have insisted that the PLO recognize Israel as a "Jewish state" and have also refused to remove military forces and settlers from the Jordan Valley, which forms a third of the occupied West Bank. Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967 and moved hundreds of thousands of settlers into the occupied territories in contravention of international law.
From Ma'an News Agency, Feb. 3.