NEW YORK - Amid deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas has suggested that a US-led Nato force remain in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state in order to ensure Israel’s security.

In an interview with The New York Times published on Monday, Abbas said that following an agreement on territory, Israeli troops should be able to remain in the Palestinian state for a transition period of five years.

Following the withdrawal of Israeli forces, Abbas said that they should be replaced indefinitely by the Nato troops, who would secure the area along with Palestinian security forces and police. 

The president, who met the Times correspondents at his headquarters in Ramallah,  said that the Nato force can stay “for a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders but also on the western borders, everywhere ... For a long time, for the time they wish. Nato can be everywhere, why not?”

The foreign troops, he added “can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us. We will be demilitarized. ... Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?”

Abbas said Israeli troops should not remain in the Palestinian state beyond the five-year transition period, saying that a situation in which the Palestinians were judged on their ability to maintain security would be “a humiliation for us...They will make a test for us and of course we will fail.”

The Palestinian leader said that, while former prime minister Ehud Olmert welcomed the idea of foreign troops replacing Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, Netanyahu told Abbas personally that he rejects the idea.

“The Israelis are occupiers and they want to stay forever. When they say they want to stay for 40 years, it means they will not go out from our territory.”

About the struggling Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Abbas also said Israeli soldiers could remain in the West Bank for up to five years — not the three years he had earlier proposed — and said he envisioned Israeli settlements being phased out of the new Palestinian state during those five years.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declined to respond directly to Abbas’ Nato proposal. “Our attitude toward international forces is sceptical in the extreme,” a senior Israeli official told the Times. Netanyahu has often said Israel would rely on its own military and no other.

Illustrating that point, Abbas told the Times he once suggested to Netanyahu a US-led force including Jordan could patrol the West Bank. The suggestion came a few years ago at Netanyahu’s home in a meeting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he said.

“I told him: ‘If you will not trust your allies, so whom do you trust? I am not bringing for you Turkey and Indonesia,’” Abbas recalled saying to Netanyahu. “He said, ‘I trust my army only,’” Abbas said.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told the Times in an email, “There are many ideas being proposed from both the Israelis and the Palestinians, but it is premature to make any predictions about the final contents of a framework.”

Kerry is preparing to present a framework of core principles for a peace deal. The framework is expected to include a security plan, an Israeli-Palestinian border roughly along the 1967 lines, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and Jerusalem as a shared capital.

The peace talks started July 29, 2013, and are scheduled to last up to nine months, or until April 29. Kerry originally said the talks would reach a final Palestinian-Israeli accord by that date but later proposed simply an agreement on a preliminary framework.

April 29 is “not a sacred date,” Abbas told the Times. “Suppose by the end of nine months we got something promising. Shall I stop? I will not stop,” he said. “If, after nine months, we didn’t get anything, if there is nothing on the horizon, we will stop.”

Abbas, 78, also said recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was “out of the question.”

He said Egypt and Jordan were not asked to do this when they signed peace treaties with Israel. He showed the Times a 28-page packet that included a 1948 letter signed by President Harry Truman in which “Jewish state” was crossed out and replaced by “State of Israel”.

The first US official to use “Jewish State” was Secretary of State Colin Powell in a 2001. For Netanyahu, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would mean Palestinian refugees have no claim to return to property they fled or were forced to leave when Israel was founded in 1948, the Washington Post said. Palestinians see their “right of return” as a sacred tenet.