Palestinians reject Israeli presence in future state

RAMALLAH, West Bank(AFP) — The Palestinians on Thursday rejected the idea of an Israeli presence on the eastern border of their future state, which was mooted by Israel’s hawkish prime minister.

“The Palestinian leadership will not accept the presence of a single Israeli soldier in the Palestinian territories after the end of the occupation,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for president Mahmud Abbas, told AFP.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel would patrol the eastern border of any future state to prevent the smuggling of weapons, especially rockets like those fired from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

“The ability to proliferate into contiguous areas thousands of rockets and missiles… is something that creates a monumental security problem,” he told foreign reporters in Jerusalem.

But the Palestinians said they would insist on the full sovereignty of any future state.

“We will not accept anything less than a completely sovereign Palestinian state on all the territories with its own borders, resources and airspace,” Abu Rudeina said.

“We will not accept any Israeli presence, either military or civilian, on our land, and we will not accept that our state be under Israeli protection.”

Abu Rudeina added that Netanyahu’s insistence on an Israeli border guard would “place more obstacles in the way of restarting peace talks.”

The dispute erupted as US Middle East envoy George Mitchell made his latest in a series of visits to the region aimed at convincing both sides to relaunch negotiations suspended during last year’s Gaza war.

The Palestinians have said they will not return to the negotiating table without a complete halt of settlement growth and have rejected a limited 10-month moratorium imposed by Netanyahu in November as insufficient.