Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has suggested that a US-led NATO force remain in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state in order to ensure Israel's security.
Speaking to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, in an interview published on Monday, Abbas said that following an agreement on territory, Israeli troops should be able to remain in the Palestinian state for a transition period of five years.
Following the withdrawal of Israeli forces, Abbas said that they should be replaced indefinitely by the NATO troops, who would secure the area along with Palestinian security forces and police.
The PA president said that the 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 ... For a long time, for the time they wish. NATO can be everywhere, why not?”
The foreign troops, he added "can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us. We will be demilitarized. ... Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?”
Abbas was adamant that Israeli troops not remain in the Palestinian state beyond the five-year transition period, saying that a situation in which the Palestinians were judged on their ability to maintain security would be "a humiliation for us...They will make a test for us and of course we will fail.”
The Palestinian leader said that, while former prime minister Ehud Olmert welcomed the idea of foreign troops replacing Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, Netanyahu told Abbas personally that he rejects the idea.
"The Israelis are occupiers and they want to stay forever. When they say they want to stay for 40 years, it means they will not go out from our territory.”