Report: Kerry offers ten-year Israeli presence in Jordan Valley

Palestinian official tells 'Al-Ayyam' Kerry offered Abbas Israeli presence that would focus on border passes and mountain tops.

By KHALED ABU TOMEH
December 10, 2013 16:57
2 minute read.
 US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) with PAn President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem November 6, 2013

Kerry and Abbas Novebmer 6 2013 2 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly shot down a proposal by US Secretary of State John Kerry to maintain Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for ten years following the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, a Palestinian official told Al-Ayyam.

During this time, according to the paper, PA security forces would be trained to assume control over the Jordan Valley.

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Quoting an unnamed Palestinian official, the paper said that Kerry’s ideas also include “invisible” Israeli presence at the border crossings between the West Bank and Jordan. In addition, the Americans would install early warning systems on hilltops in the West Bank, the official told the paper.

The Palestinians, however, rejected the offered American security "ideas," saying the arrangements proposed were totally unacceptable.

The official described the meeting between Kerry and Abbas last week as being “worse than bad,” and added that the American stance on the subject is a step back from proposals made in the past.

He added that the Palestinians “will never accept Israeli presence in the valley.”

The official accused the Americans of “abandoning” ideas previously presented by former US security coordinator Gen. John Allen. Those ideas, the official pointed out, talk about the deployment of US-led NATO troops in the Jordan Valley with no Israeli presence.

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“The Americans are now talking about security arrangements that fully endorse the Israeli perspective, especially regarding the Jordan Valley, border crossings and airspace,” the official charged.

According to the official, Abbas informed the US Consul General in Jerusalem during their recent meeting that he is opposed to the presence of any Israeli soldier in the Palestinian state. Abbas said that he would accept the presence of a third party [in the Jordan Valley] to ensure the implementation of any agreement, the official added.

Kerry is scheduled to arrive Wednesday evening for yet another round of shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem and Ramallah. He is expected to meet separately on Thursday both with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Abbas.

This visit comes just five days after Kerry was here last, presenting both sides with what he called American "ideas" regarding security arrangements that are to be put in place following an accord.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority leadership has made clear it is committed to the peace talks with Israel until the end of the nine-month deadline set by Kerry, a top
Abbas aide said Wednesday.

Hussein al A’raj, director of Abbas’s bureau, said that the PA would also pursue the talks until the release of the third and fourth batch of prisoners jailed before the signing of the Oslo Accords.

A’raj said that there was no “mature partner” for peace in Israel. He said that the mentality of the Israeli government was based on “denying Palestinian rights and procrastination.”

Nonetheless, he stressed that the Palestinians plan to continue with the negotiations until the end of the nine-month deadline in April 2014.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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