Abbas Gives Israel 3 Years to Withdraw from Judea and Samaria
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has given Israel 3 years to withdraw from Judea and Samaria in the event that an interim agreement is reached, according to AFP.
"Those who are proposing 10 to 15 years (before a withdrawal) do not want to withdraw at all," Abbas said in an interview screened on Tuesday at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) taking place in Tel Aviv.
"We say that in a reasonable time frame, no longer than three years, Israel can withdraw gradually," he said.
His remarks came as an April deadline loomed for faltering US-backed peace talks, which have been in deadlock notably over the issue of future security arrangements.
The US's security plan involves a slow transition from IDF patrols over the region to Palestinian Authority (PA) forces, with an international presence, according to reports. IDF drones would also be deployed over the area, as a means of gathering information about any terrorist activity that could potentially develop there.
The Israeli government has insisted that the region is of crucial importance to Israel's future, and has been critical of plans to hand over the area to the PA. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted that in the event that Israel withdrew from Judea and Samaria, as per Kerry's plans, the Jordan Valley be kept under Israeli control.
Israel wants to maintain a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley, but the Palestinians insist Israeli troops withdraw completely, making way for an international force.
"We have no problem with there being a third party present after or during the withdrawal, to reassure Israel and to reassure us that the process will be
completed," Abbas claimed. "We think NATO is the appropriate party to undertake this mission."
"The Palestinian borders must, in the end, be held (controlled) by Palestinians and not by the Israeli army," he added.
Abbas reiterated Palestinian demands that a two-state solution be based on 1949 Armistice Lines, and that a divided Jerusalem serve as the capital for a Palestinian state.
The two sides began a nine-month track of US-backed peace negotiations in July but so far there has been little visible progress, with the PA warning that after the deadline, they could take legal action in the international courts against Israel over construction in Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria.
But Abbas expressed hope there would be progress before then.
"I hope we succeed so we don't have to resort to legal or diplomatic or political confrontation on the world stage," he claimed. "A solution will bring Israel recognition from 57 Muslim countries, a clear, straightforward and diplomatic recognition between these countries and Israel," Abbas added.
"I hope the Israeli people can understand what it is to be in an ocean of peace, from Mauritania to Indonesia, rather than in an island of peace as it is at the moment."
He said he would happily meet Netanyahu in person, during a visit by either man to each other's parliament.
In November, Netanyahu called on Abbas to come to the Knesset in a speech he gave during a visit to Israel by French President Francois Hollande.
"Come to the Israeli Knesset and I'll come to Ramallah," Netanyahu said. "Get up on this platform and recognize the historical truth: the Jews have a nearly 4,000-year-old link to the land of Israel. The Jews are a people with a right to self-determination," he added.
Abbas later said that he was willing to come to the Knesset but would not say what Netanyahu expects to hear.
“You know, Netanyahu comes up with an offer and then immediately puts forward his own terms – that this and that should be said and so on. No, if those terms are put forward, I do not accept that,” he declared. “But if he wants me to come and say the things I want to say, then I am ready to do it – but only in order to say what I want to say and not what he wants to hear.”