The Arab League on Saturday rejected a security plan put forth by US Secretary of State John Kerry which would have allowed a limited presence of IDF troops within the borders of a future Palestinian state under a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
At an emergency meeting on Saturday, called by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the league’s secretary-general, Nabil al-Araby said that not one Israeli soldier could remain in the West Bank.
The US proposals “achieved Israeli security expansionist demands, and guaranteed (Israel’s) continued control of (the Jordan Valley) on the security pretext,” read an Arab League statement, according to Reuters.
Aides to Abbas have criticized the plan. One aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations, said Saturday the Palestinians were trying to soften the proposal to shorten the span of any Israeli withdrawal.
Among its key elements, the US security plan reportedly provides for a series of border crossings along the Jordan Valley border between the West Bank and Jordan which would be jointly controlled by Israel and the PA. The entire border itself, however, would remain under full Israeli control, with the IDF joined only by a symbolic Palestinian security presence. These arrangements would hold for many years, but not necessarily permanently, the implication being that in a future new era of stability and mutual confidence, Israel might transfer more authority to the Palestinians.
The US, under the proposal, would provide an additional security “envelope,” which would utilize drones and other high-tech equipment to provide real-time intelligence on any terrorist threats and other unlawful border activity.
The Palestinian Authority had reportedly rejected the plan earlier this month. Although it subsequently denied this, the PA is firmly opposed to any ongoing Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley or elsewhere in its intended state
The plan’s layout stated that “Greater Jerusalem,” which would include the city’s adjacent towns and villages, would be divided, according to a report on Channel 10 News. The eastern side of the city would serve as the Palestinian state capital, the report said, while the western part would continue serving as Israel’s capital.
It is not clear how Jerusalem’s Old City, at the heart of the conflict, would be administered under the plan.
Kerry has been pushing for a “framework agreement,” which would outline particulars of a permanent status accord, by the end of January 2014.
Under heavy US pressure, Israel and the Palestinians resumed negotiations in August after a three-year hiatus. The sides have reportedly met more than 20 times since and Kerry has traveled to the region no fewer than nine times in recent months to further talks.
Kerry was last in the region last weekend when Israel and regional countries were hit by a severe winter storm. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas and President Shimon Peres.