U.S. to offer West Bank security proposals to Israel

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CHISINAU, Moldova -- U.S. officials plan to present Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with detailed ideas about security arrangements on the West Bank under a possible peace agreement with the Palestinians, senior State Department officials said Wednesday.

The presentation is to be made to Mr. Netanyahu today by John Allen, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan and a retired Marine general who serves as an adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry on the Middle East peace talks.

It will be Mr. Allen's first briefing to the Israeli prime minister and will be provided when Mr. Kerry meets with Mr. Netanyahu, officials said. Mr. Allen has made multiple trips to Israel and developed his ideas in consultation with Israeli officials.

"It will include many details and specifics," said a State Department official who asked not to be identified under diplomatic protocol established by the agency. "He will be presenting a piece of what will be a larger whole."

Mr. Kerry made a quick trip Wednesday to Moldova to provide political support to Eastern European nations that are seeking closer political and economic ties with the European Union.

State Department officials described the security briefing as an "ongoing process" and not a finished product on which the United States was demanding an up-or-down vote from the Israeli side.

In Jerusalem, Mark Regev, a spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu, declined to comment Wednesday on the briefing plans.

Mr. Kerry has previously shared with Mr. Netanyahu some of the ideas that Mr. Allen will be outlining, said the officials who are traveling with the secretary of state.

Still, Mr. Allen's presentation appears to signify a more active U.S. role, in which the United States is doing more than coaxing the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate and is presenting its own ideas.

Officials involved in the negotiations said security had been the prime focus lately, with most of the discussion revolving around the Jordan Valley. Israel has insisted that its own military retain patrols there, rather than rely on an international force similar to those responsible for its tense borders with Lebanon and Syria. The Palestinians have said they cannot abide the presence of any Israeli soldiers in their future state.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told diplomats at a dinner Friday in Jerusalem that they needed to put more pressure on Israel for the peace talks to progress. Since the latest round of negotiations began, Mr. Erekat said, Israel has demolished 159 Palestinian homes, killed 23 Palestinians and moved forward on constructing 5,992 apartments in West Bank settlements.

When he arranged the resumption of peace talks in July, Mr. Kerry said he hoped to reach a deal in nine months.


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