Abbas Proposes NATO Mission in Future Palestinian State

Palestinian president says Israeli military withdrawal and settlement evacuation can gradually be removed for 5 years.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for an American-led NATO presence in a future Palestinian state, according to a New York Times interview published Sunday.

The NATO mission Abbas said he proposed in talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry would last indefinitely and include troop patrols throughout the West Bank and Gaza, at all checkpoints and within Jerusalem, according to the Times.

Abbas said Israeli military presence and settlements in the West Bank could be gradually removed for up to five years after a peace agreement is signed – a departure from the three years he had previously proposed.

Under Abbas' plan, which comes six months into the current round of talks with Israel, Palestine would not have an army, only a police force, the Times said. Such an arrangement would leave NATO responsible for preventing terrorism.

The proposed NATO force can stay “for a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders, but also on the western borders, everywhere,” Abbas told the Times. “The third party can stay. They can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us."

“We will be demilitarized,” he added. “Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will only accept an agreement that includes the long-term presence of Israeli troops along the eastern border of the West Bank, known as the Jordan Valley.

Abbas reiterated his objection to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, noting that Jordan and Egypt were not required to do so in signing peace agreements with Israel. 

“Mr. Netanyahu is the key," Abbas told the Times. "If he does believe in peace, everything will be easy.”