IDF opposes plan for NATO in W. Bank

General James Jones (ret.), Obama's national security adviser pick, supports the idea.

jones rice 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
jones rice 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A day after President-elect Barack Obama chose retired general James Jones as his national security adviser, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday that they were opposed to the deployment of a NATO force in the West Bank following an Israeli withdrawal, a plan Jones supports. A former commander of NATO, Jones has for the past year served as a security envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. During his meetings with Israelis, Jones has proposed that a NATO-based international force deploy in the West Bank in the interim period between an Israeli withdrawal and the Palestinian forces becoming able to curb terror activity. "This plan was proposed in order to ease our concerns," explained one official who had met with Jones on one of the latter's many visits to the region. "In reality though, it isn't likely to work." The IDF is particularly wary of such a plan, a top IDF officer said, who added that the military's operational freedom in the territories was responsible for the drop in terrorist attacks. "NATO is a very bad idea," the officer said. "No other country in the world has successfully dealt with terror like Israel has. There is a need for continuous combat; NATO will not want to endanger its soldiers on behalf of Israeli citizens." On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni flew to Brussels for a gathering of foreign ministers at NATO headquarters. The visit comes amid growing ties between Israel and NATO, marked by a visit to Brussels two weeks ago by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. In the past year, Israel has hosted a number of NATO workshops in Tel Aviv, the latest of which focused on unmanned aerial vehicles. In the next few months another workshop will be held in Israel for all NATO members, dealing with logistic supply. But despite the warming of ties, Israeli defense officials said it was unlikely that NATO would be willing to deploy forces in the West Bank before a final peace agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In addition, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said that NATO would only begin to consider such a deployment after an official invitation from both sides as well as approval by the United Nations Security Council.