General James Jones, whom U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is widely expected to tap as his national security adviser, supports the deployment of an international force in the West Bank instead of the Israel Defense Forces. He also opposes Israel's demand to retain extensive security control over the territories even after a Palestinian state is established.
Jones served as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian security issues over the past year. He was tasked in particular with formulating security arrangements between Israel and the future Palestinian state.
Jones is expected to play a key role in the Obama administration. According to U.S. press reports, he will be as strong as Henry Kissinger, the all-powerful national security adviser to President Richard Nixon. His Middle East experience will presumably accord him a senior position in formulating American policy in the region - though Israeli sources say he would probably take a broader view as national security adviser than he did as Rice's envoy.
Israel has worked hard over the past year to persuade the Bush administration to accept its proposals on security arrangements. Israel's main argument was that its major population centers are vulnerable to rocket and suicide attacks from the West Bank, and that security control of the Jordan Valley is essential to prevent weapons from being smuggled into the West Bank. Israel also demanded complete demilitarization of the future Palestinian state, Israeli control of border crossings and Israeli early warning stations in the mountains.
In response to Israel's claim that the Palestinians cannot be trusted with responsibility for security, Jones, a former NATO commander, proposed a NATO-based international force that would later transfer control to the Palestinians.
Israeli officials say that such a force sounds wonderful, but in practice cannot provide the intelligence necessary to prevent terror.
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