The stalemate between Israel and Gaza is unlikely to be resolved either by Hamas, Israel or the UN. It is time to ask: could the creation of a temporary international agency dedicated to enforcing peace be the solution?by Prince Hassan of Jordan / January 17, 2009 / Leave a comment
The tragic stalemate between Israel and Palestine should have ended long ago. It has involved 60 years of bitter conflict, including numerous international wars and the displacement of refugees following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the Israeli occupation of Palestine after 1967. The struggle seems never-ending. It is a woeful tale of missed opportunities, broken promises, moments of hope shattered by renewed acts of aggression and an entrenchment of polarised positions.
Even prior to the current escalation, the Israeli blockade was having a calamitous impact on the population of Gaza. In the immediate weeks and months ahead, crisis management will be required to halt the violence on both sides, but temporary ceasefires are not a solution. Nor do international resolutions appear to be effective. At the same time, neither condemnation nor ad hoc aid can heal these festering wounds. This is a conflict with far-reaching implications, first and foremost for the people of Palestine, but also for the stability of the region and beyond. Yet it is also a conflict within which practical measures may be suggested, and attempted.
To halt the apparently growing disconnect within the region, both the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the League of Arab States must present a clear statement of their positions, whilst the Arab Peace Initiative needs to inject new momentum into its proposals, regaining traction amongst the parties and international partners. Survival in these harsh, but staggeringly beautiful lands requires cooperation over scarce resources, on the provision of employment for our youth, and on regional trade agreements. To be enduring, any meaningful peace initiative must address the region as a whole, inclusive of Iran, Israel and Turkey.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has recently emphasised that the UN is coordinating efforts at promoting a ceasefire, but the question remains: with whom, and which efforts? For it has to be said that at some level the UN lost its international credibility when it joined the Quartet. While it is certain that united international pressure is needed to achieve a ceasefire, a ceasefire in and of itself cannot win the peace. At this precise moment, too, it seems unlikely that either Israel or Hamas can themselves initiate a process. The West is perceived as biased. The Arab leadership is seen as divided and, in some instances—where it seeks to contain the madness—as guilty of complicity. And, of course, the…