Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview that aired Tuesday he would only accept an Israeli military presence in the West Bank for up to three years in the transition period following any peace deal.
“The transitional period between the signing of a peace agreement with Israel and the final withdrawal of all IDF troops from the West Bank cannot exceed three years,” Abbas said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Abbas’ stance conflicts starkly with the Israeli position, which seeks a gradual withdrawal, lasting between 10 and 50 years. “Whoever proposes 10-15 years for a transition period does not want to withdraw,” Abbas continued. However, the Palestinian leader qualified that he is willing to have a third party assume Israel’s place after the withdrawal in order to “soothe our concerns and Israel’s and ensure both sides that things will continue as normal.”
His comments, which have not yet been addressed by Netanyahu, raise the question: who would serve as the “third party” in such a scenario? Abbas suggested NATO as a “suitable party.” Israel, however, feels only its own soldiers can be depended upon to ensure security in the West Bank.
When Abbas was asked how he would get Hamas to comply with any peace agreements, he responded, “Hamas is not a problem, just leave it to us.” Israeli leadership would likely not be comfortable ‘leaving’ the situation in the West Bank uncensored—the security concerns would be too great.