Abbas seeks NATO forces, vows to stop third uprising
By: Yazan al-Saadi
Published Monday, February 3, 2014
Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that he has proposed to US Secretary of State John Kerry for a US-led NATO force to patrol a future Palestinian state indefinitely, with troops positioned throughout the occupied territories, including Jerusalem.
In an interview with The New York Times , Abbas said that his plan would allow Israeli soldiers to remain in the West Bank for up to five years and that illegal Israeli settlements should be phased out of the new Palestinian state along a similar timetable.
Palestine would be completely demilitarized, and therefore only have a police force, he added.
The NATO mission, according to Abbas, would be responsible for preventing the weapons smuggling and any resistance against Israeli forces.
“For a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders, but also on the western borders, everywhere,” Abbas. “The third party can stay. They can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us.
“We will be demilitarized,” he had said in the interview. “Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?”
Abbas’s proposal comes six months into a deflating negotiations brokered by the United States, as Israel continues to enlarge illegal colonial settlements, the construction of the apartheid wall within Palestinian territories, and conducts deadly raids and strikes on Gaza and the West Bank which have killed and injured tens of civilians in the past year.
In regards to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas said, “This is out of the question,” pointing out that Jordan and Egypt were not asked to do so when they signed peace treaties with Israel.
In addition, the PA president said that he had been resisting pressure from the Palestinian street to join the United Nations agencies and leadership and that his staff had presented 63 applications ready for his signature, which he has ignored so far.
“No, I don’t want, I want to take advantage of every minute now, maybe we can achieve something,” he said to The New York Times. “I don’t like to go to the courts. I don’t like courts. I want to solve my problems directly between the parties.”
He also stressed that he would not allow a third uprising to erupt.
“In my life, and if I have any more life in the future. I will never return to the armed struggle,” he said.
However Abbas’ comments have been harshly criticized by many within the Palestinian community.
“The declarations by Mahmoud Abbas to the New York Times are simply expressing his opinions and policies,” Suhail al-Natour, a Palestinian writer and an editor for a Beirut-based Palestinian journal al-Hurriyah, told Al-Akhbar.
“All the Palestinian factions in the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization refused to go to negotiate,” Natour added.
“All the results and positions that are not with the Palestinians’ inalienable rights will be unacceptable for anyone. Israeli or foreign military presence means no state and no sovereignty.”
The writer also noted that also within Abbas’ own political organization, Fatah, there were growing “objections [to] these continued concessions.”
“This is not about creating peace. And Palestinians will not allow the continued existence of the Israel occupational and colonial yoke over them,” he added.
In a similar vein, Marwan Abdel Aal, an official of the Lebanese branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), echoed these sentiments.
“[Abbas’] statements are basically allowing Israel to continue it’s control and power. It seems they are going to have a majority of their illegal colonial enclaves on most of the land,” he said to Al-Akhbar
“In regards to security, ironically Israel refuses to have American forces and only wants the military presence to be Israeli. Anyways, whatever foreign forces are there it would ensure that Palestine wouldn’t be a state, it would be a caricature of a state,” he added.
The PFLP official also stressed that Abbas’ policies seeks to “further the occupation and does not have support of Palestinians in the West Bank, in Gaza, in the 1948 land, and elsewhere.”
“For Israel, this is a soft victory and a typical concession by Abbas,” he concluded.
The future of the illegal settlements is among one of many core issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinians fear the Israeli colonial enclaves, which are considered strictly illegal by international law, will deny them terrain they see as crucial to a viable country.
More than 500,000 illegal Israeli settlers live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Furthermore, Israel, with the help of Egypt, has further tightened an illegal siege on the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since 2007. The blockade, which is considered by many international organizations to be a form of collective punishment, has had catastrophic consequences for the civilian population.