Saturday, March 06, 2010


By Le Moineau
First Draft
6 March 2010
Article 62

Chatham House argues for international intervention in Palestine

A little over a year ago, a Daily Star piece ‘Conditioning Gaza: Preparing to deploy international forces in Palestine?’ proposed that
the ultimate goal of the [Israeli 2009] Gaza invasion is to create the conditions to introduce international troops into Palestine. [emphasis added]
Last month, The Royal Institute of International Affairs’ Chatham House published a 10-page policy recommendation, Beyond the Impasse: International Intervention and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process' by Joel Peters, that validates this argument, going further to aver that
such an intervention has now become a necessary condition for the transformation of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict. [p 5, emphasis added]
Mr Peters lists various policies such as the 2000 Clinton Parameters and prominent diplomats who have advocated such an intervention over the past decade, including Israeli and Palestinian officials, US heavy-hitters such as Obama’s National Security Adviser and former Nato Commander General James Jones, former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft and former Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk. [pp 2-4]

Mr Peters claims his purpose is to make the case for international intervention plausible to an otherwise unenthusiastic Israeli establishment [pp 1, 10-11]. Citing recent public polls [p 10] and government officials asserting that Israeli society and the ‘security community has become increasingly open to the idea’, [p 3] he suggests that ‘long-term’ international intervention would not be ‘inimical to Israeli interests’ and could even ‘facilitate’ Israel ‘meeting many of its security challenges’. [p 1]

Keep in mind that for all intents and purposes Nato is already deployed in south Lebanon as part of Unifil and UNSCR 1701 (An important reason why ominous reports of future hostilities in southern Lebanon remain doubtful). That is probably why Mr Peters is confident Nato could easily extend Unifil’s naval mandate under the European Maritime Force (EuroMarFor) and the Maritime Task Force (MTF) to ‘relieve Israeli security concerns along the Gaza coast’.* [p 6]

Mr Peters, however, wisely warns that Nato’s intervention cannot be imposed but rather ‘requires the convergence of Israeli and Palestinian expectations over the mission’s strategic purpose’. [p 11, emphasis added]

At the recent Herzliya Conference, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad vowed to establish a Palestinian state and brazenly informed his all-Israeli audience of the Palestinians’ intent to ‘roll back the occupation’ through the building of viable national institutions. Noting that he shared the podium with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, The Washington Post contrasted the two leaders' styles, but also identified an important level of convergence, where
...there was a common thread, too, with each acknowledging an international consensus on the idea of two nations. [Echoing former US President Jimmy Carter: ed] Barak said that Israel risks becoming ‘an apartheid state par excellence’ if it does not negotiate the terms of Palestinian statehood soon, and Fayyad said the work being done in the West Bank on governance needs to be matched by political progress.

Note that in this context, Israeli-Palestinian convergence centers around the ‘international consensus’ towards Palestinian statehood--where, incidentally, the first phase might entail a period of Nato trusteeship. [ p 3] Mr Peters also believes that in addition to alleviating Israeli security concerns, Nato’s presence ‘could offer an important bridge’ to resolve Gaza’s need for socio-economic prosperity, the emergence of two states and the end of hostilities: [pp 1, 7]
If carefully planned and judiciously introduced, [the international force] could ... help move Israel and the Palestinians back along the path to a peaceful settlement and towards the realization of a two-state solution. [p 11]
Although fraught with obstacles and deep-seated distrust between the parties, [p 9] creating the climate for inserting Nato into a sovereign Palestine might remain a policy direction worth pursuing. This is especially true if we believe in Mr Peters’ assertion that it is a necessary condition for permanently ending the Arab-Israeli conflict and ensuring long-term regional stability.

This time, however, let us hope the policymakers and politicians who are seeking its implementation can find a just and peaceful way towards this 'strategic convergence'--and not end up replacing Israel’s untenable occupation with another. [p 9]

*Recall the US-Israeli January 2009 memorandum of understanding that allows unprecedented access for Nato to patrol the entry points into Gaza. For more see my blog entry ‘The MOU Coup'


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