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Palestinians say a gradual Israeli withdrawal OK

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Palestinian president says he would accept a limited Israeli presence in the West Bank after a future peace deal, hinting at a possible compromise in one of the thorniest issues of U.S.-mediated talks.

Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview broadcast to an Israeli security conference Tuesday that Israel could gradually withdraw from Palestinian territory over a period of up to three years. The Palestinians have previously balked at Israeli demands to remain in parts of the West Bank for at least a decade due to security concerns.

Abbas said a third party like NATO could take over security arrangements during the withdrawal time.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to the region in the coming weeks with a proposed “framework” for a final peace deal.

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