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Abbas tells US lawmakers: NATO role in Palestinian state

Aug. 12, 2011 12:20 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 13, 2011 9:35 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting US Congressmen on Thursday that the security of the future Palestinian state will be handed to NATO under US command, his adviser said Friday.

The Palestinian state must also be "empty of [Israeli] settlements," the President said, according to official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA.

Members of the US Congress and Senate delegation, headed by Democrat Senator Steny Hoyer, met with the President in Ramallah on Thursday, and quizzed Abbas on Israel's designation as a Jewish state, the status of refugees, and reconciliation between the President's Fatah party and rival Hamas, Presidential adviser Nimir Hamad said.

Abbas reiterated the Palestinian Authority's well-known positions on these matters, Hammad added, and specified that security responsibility for the Palestinian Authority would be handled by a third party, suggesting the US-Europe military alliance NATO.

In September 2010, Abbas had outlined the government's acceptance of international forces from NATO or similar to the UNIFIL force operating in southern Lebanon playing a role in Palestinian security, as long as forces did not include one single Israeli, whether from the civilian population or the military.

On Thursday, WAFA reported that Abbas stressed to the delegates that the Palestinian bid for recognition as a state at the UN was "not an attempt to isolate or delegitimize Israel, but rather aimed at promoting the two-state solution."

The "first, second and third Palestinian option is establishing a Palestinian state through talks," Abbas said.

On Friday, Hamad also criticized the Israeli Ministry of Interior to build more than 4,000 new settlement homes near Jerusalem, saying the move was a "clear challenge to the international community that rejects the policy of settlements and the Judaization of [Palestinian] lands."
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