Wednesday, January 07, 2009

About that ceasefire

While the international cries for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip increases proportionately with every image of Palestinian suffering, and that suffering is by no means unrealistic or not immense; what exactly would a temporary ceasefire accomplish other than a time of re-grouping till the next round?

Hamas, if taken at their word, rejects any permanent ceasefire with the Israelis. So even the efforts of France and Egypt are successful in creating a temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel; how exactly will it be the world will not one day be watching the IDF in action and scores of Palestinians suffering more than a human heart should know in another six months, a year or 18 months?

International monitors on the borders of Israel, Gaza and Egypt? Actually, this has been tried, and whenever things got hairy in a confrontational way, the EU Observer team routinely fled to Israel for safety. Egyptian forces have been increasingly coming under fire from not just "Hamas" but their own Bedouin tribesmen whenever Egypt has tried to interfere in the lucrative Bedouin weapons trade with Hamas. The current situation would not be possible without the general inadequacy and incompetence of the Egyptian Security Forces, and if nothing else, should prove the Egyptians are in way over their heads. While it is easy to cast motes in Egypt's eye, even first world nations in similar situations, have found it difficult to maintain order with determined gangsterism – just think US/Mexico border for starts.

Retired Canadian General Lewis MacKenzie has an opinion piece in yesterday's Globe and Mail outlining the need for a UN force with a strong Chapter 7 mandate.
On their own, Israel and Hamas are doomed to a perpetual state of war no matter how much international diplomatic horsepower is applied to resolving the conflict. But there is a solution that the world has been adroitly avoiding for 40 years.

Israel deserves security. Its population is prepared to live in peace with its neighbours providing they aren't dedicated to its extermination. If Israel deals with the threat from Hamas on its own, the situation will not improve over the long term - Hamas will simply resuscitate itself and carry on with its terrorist actions against Israel. The Security Council needs to show some rare backbone and authorize a strong UN force under the UN Charter's Chapter 7, which authorizes the use of deadly force as necessary, and deploy it within the Gaza Strip, taking on the responsibility to provide the security to which Israel is entitled.

The force would need to be strong enough to interdict weapons smuggling by sea, land (including by tunnel) and air from outside sources, to eliminate rocket attacks on Israel, to stop suicide bombers through use of border controls and, most important, to be strong enough militarily to take on Hamas if need be. The oft-expressed idea of putting international monitors into the Gaza Strip to control smuggling and the firing of rockets is ludicrous: Hamas would run rings around any unarmed outsiders whose only mandate was to "observe and report." Such monitors wouldn't even qualify as yet another Band-Aid solution.

The idea of an 'observe and report' mission is absolutely asinine. If a rocket falls in Sderot, we all know it. No one needs a UN mission to count rockets and report, and to what purpose would an 'observe and report' mission be - when it happened to stumble upon a rocket launching or an arms cache destined for Hamas? Report it to the UN and ask for direction? Shades of Rwanda and a big hairy so what if it did? It would not change the ultimate or logical outcome.

MacKenzie is right. The only international force worth its salt would need a strong Chapter 7 mandate to militarily engage and actively pursue those 'militant' Palestinian fractions who wish to circumvent or undermine the 'ceasefire' at a time of their choosing.

But even a Chapter 7 mandate security force does not even begin to address the most crucial of Palestinian aspirations, and would ultimately be doomed to failure - if a strong civilian administration authority is not put in charge to oversee matters of daily governance. Turning control back over to Hamas, who is ultimately responsible for bringing the Gaza Strip to this bloody abyss, or even (G-d forbid) to the Palestinian Authority - which has proved itself a thousand times over as utterly incapable of governing the Gaza Strip with any measurable standard of responsible government, is to perpetuate the cycle of violence indefinitely.

Ordinary Palestinians are held in bondage and shackled to high terror thuggery practised by Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other sundry 'resistance' based gangsterism. The Palestinian people have shown the world time and time again they are impotent to change the cycle of violence by themselves...which is Arafat's true legacy to the Palestinian people, so if we won't help – who will?

The only other viable alternative is for the Israelis to annex the Gaza Strip and rebuild the settlements, and for a nation accused regularly of being colonizers; there is definite reluctance to do just that.


Chris Taylor said...

Lewis Mackenzie is a smart guy and a good officer, but he's delusional in this case.

Inserting even the most robustly equipped and authorised UN force into Gaza won't change the calculus one bit.

If the UN fields an effective force, they will simply be accused of being a Zionist Crusader puppet and the Gazans will henceforth devote their energies to attacking the peacekeepers, as well as their habitual shelling of Israeli border settlements.

It's a recipe for drawing the rest of the world into the conflict, not for ending it.

Eventually DPKO will be forced to render its soldiers toothless by restricting the ROE and putting someone with exquisite sensitivities (i.e. a Milquetoast do-nothing) into the slot so as not to raise the dander of the Gazans.

Colonising is the least worst option. At least Israel has a dog in the fight. The UN doesn't, and shouldn't.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Its not that I necessarily disagree with you. Lewis, hasn’t completely thought this out. My point being, the only way an international force (with a strong Chapter 7 mandate) has a chance of succeeding is if it twinned with an outside civilian administration.

Look, the Palestinians are literally flooded with incitement, its on their state run television and radio, its in their textbooks in school, its their street names, the posters which go up in the public square. The whole civilian administration breeds, feeds, and saturates it and it has been this way for years but it needs to end.

While Hamas got rid of the outward signs of corruption it does not mean Hamas hasn’t been playing favourites. Certainly, the reports coming from native Gazans have not been overtly favourable towards Hamas’ conduct either before or during the war.

Now, would the UN authorize a Chapter 7 force for Gaza? I personally doubt it and believe either China or Russia would veto it. Remember those Grad missiles Hamas has been firing are of Chinese manufacture, and China needs Iran’s oil. We know Russia wants to continue to arm Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

Certainly, the general assembly would be screaming for blood of anyone would attempt to authorize a Chapter 7 mission because that would mean Hamas et al would be directly in the line of fire and no potentially no Jews would be involved or dying.

Nor do I believe the UN would authorize a civilian administration to step in and run the strip in place of the PA or Hamas. It has long been my belief there is far too much money to be made in keeping this conflict going for anyone to want to stop it now.

Can you imagine the world outrage if Israel, once again took over running the Gaza Strip? And you also have to understand, as far-fetched as some believe, the Israelis really don’t want to rule over another million Arabs. Most days its hard enough trying to govern Jews, let alone anyone else - it would be an incredibly unpopular move for any Israeli administration – it might even be the kiss of death electorally for any party to even suggest it.

Chris Taylor said...

And if my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon. =)

An outside civilian administration in this case is the equivalent of Santa Claus. A fond fairy tale; never going to happen.

The Palestinians would not accept such an animal because it would, by necessity, have to exclude an awful lot of popular but corrupt/incompetent hometown favourites. Putting outsiders in their place just makes it easier for the opposition to pin the "puppet Crusader government" label on them. I have no doubt that more than a few Arab neighbour states would join in on that chorus, too. Beating Israel with the ugly stick makes for good press at home.

And as always with the UN and its idealistic plans, always envision the corrupted, sordid reality of the vision, not the airy fairy intentions. In other words imagine how Jew-hating zealots would subvert an outside "impartial" government by stacking the commitees and bureacracies with their favourite sons. Kind of like they have already managed to get appointed the UN's Human Rights Commissioners.

Too many people get a lot of political, religious and economic mileage out of keeping Palestinians at the boiling point. The only people who can change that reality are the Palestinians themselves, by refusing to go after the bait. Since the Palestinians are not going to heed the better angels of their nature, it's better than Israel step in and protect its own people.

Like any body politic composed mainly of lawyers, I'm sure the Knesset is not the brightest collection of people on the planet, but they have a demonstrably better record than any given UN commission. And they will care slightly about the outcome, utterly unlike the UN.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

Chris, your not getting it - the majority of Israelis don't want the Gaza Strip back.

Chris Taylor said...

I get it. I don't think the UN has any business being there, nor any competency in dealing with the challenges in the PA.

The Israelis might not want the job, but they are the best-equipped, mentally and otherwise, to handle it.