HEBRON, West Bank (Reuters) – Israeli police used teargas and clubs to evict dozens of hard-line Jewish settlers from a disputed building in the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday after days of stone-throwing clashes with Palestinians.
Israelis have traditionally scorned the idea of international peacekeepers intruding in their region. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion once famously dismissed the U.N.—pronounced “Oom” in Hebrew—as “Oom, schmoom.” Arab leaders have also shown disdain: on the eve of the 1967 Six Day War, for example, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser peremptorily expelled 1,300 blue helmets from Sinai before rolling through. And Palestinians have feared that allowing an armed international force into their territory would infringe on the sovereignty of their incipient state.
It’s therefore striking that a recent proposal to deploy NATO forces in the West Bank as part of any Obama-era peace deal is quickly gaining advocates in both Washington and the Levant. Former U.S. national-security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski both recently endorsed the idea. The president-elect’s nominee to head the National Security Council, Gen. James Jones—a former NATO supreme commander—is also said to favor such a force. Israelis and Palestinians have raised tepid protests, but even they seem to be realizing increasingly that a strong international presence will be critical if any deal is to be struck—and if it’s to stick. “A principle that appeared to be out of bounds I think is now in bounds,” says Tony Blair, the Mideast envoy of the Quartet (made up of the United States, the EU, the U.N. and Russia).
Negotiators have long struggled with a frustrating Catch-22: how to secure Palestinian areas under any future peace plan. Israelis argue that they can’t make a deal until Palestinian troops become competent enough to control militants. Palestinians, on the other hand, complain that they can’t do so until the Israelis withdraw. A robust international force, in principle, could solve that conundrum. A NATO contingent—and it would likely have to be NATO, since Israelis are skeptical of the United Nations—would reassure Israelis on security while freeing the Palestinians from their hated occupiers.
“Report: Obama advisors want NATO troops in West Bank”
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – US President-elect Barack Obama is considering a deployment of NATO forces to the West Bank as part of a plan for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict, an American newsmagazine reported on Wednesday.
Former US-national security advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski reportedly endorsed the strategy in recent days. Meanwhile, Obama’s nominee to head the National Security Council, Gen. James Jones, apparently favors the idea, all according to Newsweek, a weekly American newsmagazine.
“A principle that appeared to be out of bounds I think is now in bounds,” said Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy from the International Quartet countries.
“Obama, if he goes along with this, is an idiot and a one-term president for sure.”
“Obama’s nominee to head the National Security Council, Gen. James Jones, apparently favors the idea.”
Phil Berg Barack Obama Ron Polarik Jeff Schreiber