Palestinian President: We'd Let NATO Stay
Abbas says troops could remain in Palestinian state 'indefinitely': Thomas Friedman
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 3, 2014 11:20 AM CST
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greets reporters as he arrives to attend a meeting with Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

(Newser) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has a security proposal for Israel: Work with us to establish a Palestinian state, and NATO soldiers can remain in it "for a long time, and wherever they want." In an interview with the New York Times' Thomas Friedman and Jodi Rudoren, picked up by the Jerusalem Post, Abbas explains that Israeli soldiers would be able to stick around in the West Bank for five years. Then, he suggests, NATO soldiers could replace them "indefinitely," in Friedman's words.

That force "can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us. We will be demilitarized," he says. "Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?" The proposal conflicts with Israel's current goals, Abbas notes. "They do not want the third party." While former prime minister Ehud Olmert "welcomed (the NATO) idea," current PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said he rejects it, Abbas notes: The Israelis "want to stay forever." Friedman's take: It "will require Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and America to all agree to do something they’ve long felt was outside their strategic comfort zones." But that's a given, and Abbas' "suggestion is worth considering."