Palestinians, allies, plead for UN force
Kofi Annan is discussing the issue in meetings this week. Israel, the US object.
(Page 2 of 2)
For Israel, accepting an international force would be too much of a loss, argues Nadim Shehadi, an associate fellow at London's Royal Institute of International Affairs. He says the Palestinian territories have gained a degree of autonomy since the Oslo peace accord of 1993, but that Israel has little to show for it.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"Israelis have allowed Arafat to come back and build an infrastructure without getting a quid pro quo," says Mr. Shehadi. "Getting an international force in there would ... almost be a recognition that this is Palestinian territory without getting anything in return for it.... For Israelis, it's a lot to give up."
Palestinians are also encountering objections from the US, whose veto power in the Security Council could stop any intervention initiative in its tracks. "We Palestinians know that the Americans are also against us, not the Israelis alone," says legislator Fatouh.
US officials have said they will not back the idea of a UN force as long as Israel opposes it. Instead, they insist that Israelis and Palestinians need only adhere to the US-brokered agreement the two sides reached in October at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheik.
That agreement called for an end to violence, which was quickly ignored, and established a US-led, international fact-finding committee of five individuals who will work with both sides in reviewing the Palestinian uprising and the Israeli response. They will present their report to the UN, among others. This inquiry isn't likely to be enough of an international involvement to satisfy the Palestinians.
But even without Israeli and US resistance, there are considerable problems involved in establishing a UN presence. Shehadi points out that getting UN missions off the ground is a time-consuming, politically fraught endeavor. "It doesn't happen overnight," Shehadi says. Inevitable questions arise: "What's the time limit? How do you determine when this force has achieved its goals?
"It would be very difficult to organize such a force, find the funding, and then you might have it there forever," he adds, pointing to a marginally effective UN force that has been in Lebanon since 1978.
But there is at least one instance of UN involvement in Israeli affairs that has worked. In April 1996, a French initiative led to the creation of the South Lebanon monitoring group, established to oversee the Israeli-occupied stretch of Lebanon where Hizbullah guerrilla fighters battled Israeli forces.
While the multinational group had no power to sanction either side, it did set rules against the targeting of civilians and other activity. The observers tracked conflicts and reported any infringements of the rules. "It was an attempt to control chaotic violence, which is what you have in Palestine now," says Shehadi.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society