Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a ceremony marking the 54th anniversary of Fatah's founding, in Ramallah, December 31, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
The Palestinians have proposed deploying US-led NATO forces in a future Palestinian state to address Israel’s security concerns, PA President Mahmoud Abbas revealed on Saturday.
Abbas, who was speaking to visiting American university students in Ramallah, said he made the proposal to US President Donald Trump during their last meeting in New York in September 2017.
It was the fourth and last meeting between Abbas and Trump, the Palestinian Authority president said.
“He [Trump] said he was in favor of the two-state solution,” Abbas said. “This is documented in protocols of the meeting. He said he would announce, within one week, his support for the two-state solution.”
Abbas also told Trump he was prepared to accept a Palestinian state on most of the pre-1967 lines with land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians, he said. According to Abbas, Trump said he too supported the idea, including the land swaps.
“I told him that if Israel is worried about its security, I propose bringing US-led NATO troops to Palestine to protect Israel’s and our security,” Abbas said of his last meeting with Trump.
Abbas claimed that Trump then turned to one of his aides and asked: “How many soldiers do we have?”
The US official – according to Abbas – said the US has 6,000 soldiers who could be part of the planned NATO force.
“Trump told his aide that this number was not enough, but the soldiers should anyway be ready,” Abbas added. “I told Trump: Mr. President, I don’t like war and I don’t believe in war. I believe that if we get our state, I would prefer to build a school than buy a tank, or build a hospital than purchase a warplane. I don’t want weapons, I just want to build my country.”
Abbas told the students that after he made these remarks, Trump looked at him and said: “How come they say you’re a terrorist? You are a man of peace.”
But two weeks after the meeting, Abbas noted, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Trump’s decisions, which also included cutting US financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), prompted the Palestinians to suspend their contacts with the US administration, Abbas said.
“The Palestinians are prepared to backtrack on their move if Trump rescinds his decision, for example, to move the embassy to Jerusalem, or announces that east Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” Abbas said.
The PA president lashed out at Trump’s support for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Addressing Trump, Abbas said: “Mr. President, you are not the ruler of the world; there are international laws and conventions. If you want to be the ruler of the world, you must abide by international legitimacy. It’s unacceptable for you to put your own laws and decisions. How can you allow yourself to do so? Do any of us have the right to say that Alaska is not American, but Russian? I have no right to say such a thing.
Abbas said that despite Israeli measures against the Palestinians, including deducting payments to families of prisoners and “martyrs” made by the PA government, he remains opposed to the use of violence.
“We won’t resort to violence and we won’t accept it at all,” he stressed. “We want to achieve our state and rights through peaceful means, and this means negotiations. We won’t choose any other way to achieve our rights.”
Abbas said he would work with any government elected by the Israelis.
“We believe in peace,” he said. “We believe in security for all. We have agreements with 83 countries to combat terrorism.”
The Palestinians will decide on their next move after the general election in Israel next month, he added.
“We are suffering, and we don’t know what will happen in the next few months,” Abbas said. “But they will be hard days for us.”
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