Peacekeeping Israel/Palestine

I know things don't look that good right now for the two-state solution, but despite the move towards one-state by many of my friends, I (barely) remain in favor of two states, along the 1967 lines, as the last best compromise to resolve the conflict. It is an immense compromise for the Palestinians, and would also demand that the Zionist project imposes limits on itself, something it has largely refused to do (i.e. create permanent borders for Israel.) But the alternative, the one-state solution — which is certainly the more just solution — essentially means another 50 years of war and, considering recent Israeli behavior, a good chance that the Palestinians would simply ethnically cleansed or Bantustanized.

Our friends Andrew Exum (aka Abu Muqawama) and Marc Lynch (aka Abu Aardvark) and some other people have put a report at the Center for a New American Security, that antechamber of the Obama administration, on what peacekeeping a two-state solution might look like, drawing on case studies in East Timor, Kosovo and South Lebanon. It makes it pretty clear (especially UNIFIL's case in South Lebanon, where it has not been able to fulfill either its ceasefire or disarmament mission)

They run through the scenarios in which a peacekeeping force might be needed, only the first one would be desirable (in my opinion):

  1. A full negotiated peace with a unified Palestinian government;
  2. A partial negotiated agreement (i.e. with with the PA/West Bank only);
  3. A unilateral Israeli withdrawal, presumably to the West Bank wall, with the PA surviving and Gaza remaining under Hamas control;
  4. A unilateral withdrawal with the PA collapsing.

There are two issues only lightly touched upon in the report that I would like to see:

  • The inadmissibility of a peacekeeping force around borders that are not accepted by the Palestinians, since they would legitimize those borders (i.e. the unilateral withdrawal scenarios);
  • The need to ensure that peacekeeping is something that occurs on both sides of the borders, not just on the Palestinian side. 

Lynch explores all of this further on his blog. In part because of Exum's expertise on COIN doctrine, you see some emphasis on state-building in his vision of peacekeeping. This is in some sense necessary (since the Israeli occupation has worked to sabotage and subvert that process), but the need to delimitate that is important, especially if there is no counterpart scrutiny on the Israeli side. It is better to have a unified Palestinian state, for instance, than the disaster of the last decade of security sector building in the PA that was designed, in part, to build up a constituency within its ranks that is today widely seen as collaborators. Putting Palestinian political consensus ahead of international security concerns, in the long run, would create a more stable Palestinian state by avoiding the likes of the Dahlan gangs and their use in the 2007 coup against Hamas. Thinking through this, you see another major pitfall of the Quartet's refusal to deal with Hamas.

Anyway, read the report. It's food for thought — and even one-staters might get something from it, whether it's more arguments against the two-state solutions or starting to think about what a peacekeeping solution could look like after a one-state civil war. For a critical view, read Helena Cobban's very negative take. She has issues with the section on UNIFIL (something she knows about much more than I do), the absence of a map of what Israel/Palestine would look like, and that groundwork done by the Geneva Initiative is not featured. On the whole, personally, I'm glad that people are starting to think about peacekeeping in the (admittedly unlikely) event of a two-state solution. I do share her concern that the report is called "security for peace" rather than "land for peace" even if it's a symbolic detail — it's still an important one, because it reinforces the notion that the Palestinians are the ones disturbing Israeli security, whereas the reality is overwhelmingly the other way around. But she is unduly harsh in other respects, notably in saying they don't consider the different modalities (NATO, UN, etc.) of a peacekeeping mission — it's actually talked about, and like she says herself you can't go into too much detail being so far away from a deal.

On a completely unrelated note: Andrew Exum draws attention to the bizarre defense industry adverts one sees in some areas of Washington (esp. around the Pentagon), usually showing the latest in defense systems, fighter jets etc. I've always thought they were weird — I mean, will Pentagon purchasing officers be influenced by that advertising? He is rightly disgusted at Northrop Grumman's latest ad, which shows the devastation of southern Beirut in 2006:

This is sick. I'm canceling my order for a B-2 bomber.

But what about Hosni, ya Jehan?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Jehan Sadat
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Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat's widow, Jehan Sadat, was on the Daily Show the other night plugging her new book out on the occasion of 30 years of Egyptian-Israeli piece. It wasn't quite as weird as her recent NYT interview (evidence #2312325345 it's not a very good newspaper) but this has a great moment when Jon Stewart asks her whether there are any Arab leaders capable of pushing for peace at the moment and she says there are non. Check in at 3:00 of the video.
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