Jun 14 2003

Strong International Military Involvement is needed

Published by at 12:00 am under Articles,Palestinian politics

The struggle in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resembles two sluggers in a never-ending duel. Both parties exhausted and unable to finish off the other, yet both refusing to give up the fight nor accept a draw.

The witnesses to this terrible fight have so far refused to get too involved. Other than words of advice between rounds and general blueprints of how to end this fight, no one has agreed to get deeply involved.

Clearly what is needed is an neutral and powerful outside force to separate the fighters and help settle this fight on fair and permanent basis.

A strong case can and should be made for a direct, and if need be a military international involvement in this conflict. The world has been involved in one or another in the making of the present day struggle in the Holy Land. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the world community has been involved whether it was in Britain’s Balfour Declaration promising Palestine to Zionist Jews, or the various (sometimes contradictory) promises to both Arabs and Jews, before during and after the two world wars to the late 1940s UN General Assembly’s partition plan endorsing the creation of the state of Israel. The world community has also been involved in the Middle East struggle through financially and military supporting the conflicting parties. When President Bush criticized Israel for its assassination attempt against Abdel Azziz Rantisi, few noted that the attempt (and the attacks after) was made by US made Apache Helicopters.

The idea of international monitors is part of the Road Map of Peace that was presented by the US and the other partners of the Quartet and has been officially endorsed by the Palestinian and Israeli governments. The carnage to Palestinians and Israelis during the past week show a need to speed up the implementation of this monitoring clause and giving it teeth.

International monitoring whether it be led by NATO or the US needs to start once a cease fire agreement is reached between both parties. Such a cease fire needs to contain three basic conditions:

Like any ceasefire it must be immediate and bilateral. Both Palestinians and Israelis must declare publicly and clearly to stop all acts of violence and acts that provoke the other side. This includes assassination attempts against Palestinians which Israel considers its preemptive acts. So far the Israelis have refused to commit upon themselves a cessation of anti Palestinian violence. Israelis also refuse to stop expropriating Palestinian lands, expanding settlements, house demolitions, deportations using human shields and assassinations.

Radical Palestinian groups also have to stop their attacks whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Israel, however, should not be the party to force them to do that. This should be left to the Palestinian Authority and if it fails to an international force.

Secondly it must be understood that such a ceasefire is not a substitute for a long term political solution. Political talks must commence immediately at an accelerated pace (preferably in secret) so as to produce a permanent agreement that can replace this temporary arrangement.

Thirdly the international neutral group monitoring the ceasefire agreement must be ready to act as a referee and if needed an enforcer. It must publicly declare whichever side has violated agreed upon clauses in the agreement. If needed they should militarily interfere and stop either side from

The Bush Administration’s success in getting both parties to sign on the Road Map needs to be quickly utilized by work on a ceasefire agreement that will include an enforcement element. Critics will undoubtedly point to Beirut and Somali as reasons for the US armed forces to stay away. It is true that any involvment of US forces represents a risk of some sorts. But as the most powerful country which has an interest in the success of this peace process, the US can’t afford not to get involved. Staying away is a much bigger risk not only to Palestinians and Israelis and even Americans, but to world peace. The time is ripe for courageous US action.

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