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. More