Gaza's ruling Hamas movement has ruled out the idea of international troops being stationed in a future Palestinian state under a peace deal with Israel. "From time to time we hear people making offers during the negotiations, primarily about the idea of an international force following the retreat of the (Israeli) occupier," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement published on Saturday. "We in Hamas, we will not allow the presence of an international force (in a future Palestinian state) which would be just like the Israeli occupation."
Security arrangements in a future state have become a major bone of contention in ongoing peace talks, with Israel insisting on maintaining a military presence along the Jordan Valley which runs down the eastern flank of the West Bank, bordering Jordan. The Palestinians have rejected such an idea, although they have said they would accept Nato troops or another international force. "We demand (US Secretary of State John) Kerry and others revise their positions because we won't let anyone undermine our rights," Abu Zuhri said. "This so-called Kerry plan was put together by the Americans and the Zionist entity to eradicate the Palestinian cause. We will not let such an agreement give away our people's rights," he said, calling for "a united front of factions to reject the talks and their outcome."
Peace talks began at US urging in late July between Israel and the Palestinian Authority based in the West Bank with the aim of reaching a deal within nine months. But so far, there has been little visible progress, with Washington now focused on getting the sides to agree a framework which would allow the negotiations to continue until the year's end.