Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israeli academics Tuesday that a future Palestinian state must be demilitarized, expressing his support for a key Israeli demand in any peace agreement.

Abbas said he would rather devote funds to education and institutions than to an army.

“I support a state along the 1967 borders without an army. I want unarmed police forces with canes, not guns. Instead of fighter planes and tanks, I prefer to build schools and hospitals and allocate funds and resources to social institutions,” he told his visitors in Ramallah.

Later, an Abbas adviser confirmed that the Palestinian leader had made the comments, and that his words were consistent with his previously established positions.

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni acknowledged that Abbas had expressed his support for a demilitarized Palestinian state in the 2013 and 2014 peace negotiations during the third Netanyahu government.

Israel has always demanded the demilitarization of a future Palestinian State. Currently, the Palestinian Authority has security forces formed with small arms to maintain civilian control in Palestinian cities.

Mahmud-Abbas-y-Biniamin-Netanyahu-Foto-GPO-Amos-Ben-Gershom
Mahmud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu (GPO/Amos Ben Gershom)

The Trump administration has long been working on a peace plan for the Middle East, without divulging the details of its proposal. Trump officials have said they are finalizing the plan and working to implement it, but have not offered any deadlines.

US officials have said that neither side will be “completely pleased” with the plan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that he sees no “urgency” in moving forward with US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

“It’s your business if you want to promote it,” Netanyahu told reporters. “From time to time he comments on it, and the proposal may be made, but I don’t see the urgency of the matter.”

Even before the release of the plan, the Palestinian Authority, has boycotted the US administration and has rejected any attempt to start talks again; claiming that the U.S. is no longer an honest broker in the negotiations.

The Palestinian leader’s frustration with the White House dates back to last December, when Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and launched plans to move the U.S. embassy to the city.