Abbas accepts gradual Israeli withdrawal

Mahmud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinians could accept an Israeli military presence in the West Bank for a three-year transition period as part of a peace deal.  But Abbas says “whoever proposes 10 or 15 years for a transition” is not serious about an agreement.

In an interview broadcast at an Israeli security conference,  Abbas said it is reasonable to allow Israel to “withdraw gradually” from the Jordan Valley, an area in the West Bank that borders Jordan and which has become a central issue in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Israel wants a continued presence along the strategic border, and Palestinians demand that the Israelis withdraw once a Palestinian state is formed.

Abbas said a third party, like NATO, could take over security arrangements during the withdrawal time.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that any peace agreement must ensure “a long-time Israeli military presence along the Jordan River.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to the region in the coming weeks with a proposed “framework” for a final peace deal.



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