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MONDAY, 21 APR 2014
12:43 AM Beirut time
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No compromise on Jordan Valley security: Israel official
Agence France Presse
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian close to the scene where Sariya Ofer, a retired Israeli army officer was killed in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Brosh Habika in the Jordan Valley October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Gil Eliyahu
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian close to the scene where Sariya Ofer, a retired Israeli army officer was killed in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Brosh Habika in the Jordan Valley October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Gil Eliyahu
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OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel's deputy defence minister ruled out Thursday any compromise on security in the Jordan Valley as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held security talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"From the Israeli point of view, there will not be any Palestinian presence at the crossing points (with Jordan)," said Danny Danon, a radical member of Netanyahu's rightwing Likud party.

"An Israeli civilian and military presence in the Jordan Valley is essential," he said in an interview with army radio.

Kerry arrived in Israel late on Wednesday in his latest attempt to drive forward the faltering peace talks which have almost reached the halfway point with very little visible progress.

US officials have said the focus this time would be on Israel's security arrangements, although they have refused to confirm media reports that Kerry was to present Netanyahu with a plan of how this could look in the context of a peace deal.

Israel has always insisted that in any final agreement, it would have to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley, which runs down the western flank of the West Bank, bordering Jordan.

According to a report in Maariv newspaper, when US General John Allen briefs Netanyahu during the morning meeting, he will outline a "bridging proposal" which will enable Israel to reduce, as much as possible, its military presence in the Jordan Valley.

Quoting senior diplomats, the paper said the plan would outline arrangements for a transitional period and a permanent status arrangement and may include "guarantees, advanced technological equipment and unique weaponry" which would enable Israel to either "reduce or to replace its military presence along the Jordan River".

A central part of the plan would address early warning stations and security over air space, particularly around Israel's main international airport near Tel Aviv.

But Danon ruled out any flexibility over security arrangements.

"Even if the Americans are our friends we will tell them: Sorry, we are not going to do everything you want, we are not going to give up (security) principles which are essential for us, even if it means the negotiations won't move forward and there won't be a nice ceremony at the White House," he said.

Netanyahu has said Israel would only accepted the emergence of a Palestinian state if it was demilitarised, with Israeli troops deployed along the Jordan Valley.

And he has completely ruled out any transfer of security control in the border area to a third party -- an option which would be acceptable to the Palestinians.

After talks with Netanyahu, Kerry will head to Ramallah to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at 1200 GMT.

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