Gaza needs UN Peacekeepers, Now! How to Break the Israel/Palestine Stalemate

By John V. Whitbeck

After the breakdown in the six-day “pause” to permit negotiations on a long-term Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and the resumption of Israel’s onslaught against the caged people of Gaza, concerned people everywhere are wondering how the conflicting demands of the two sides can possibly be reconciled.

Each side feels a compelling need to achieve some gain to justify its sacrifices — on the Palestinian side, over 2,000 dead, over 10,000 wounded and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure and, on the Israeli side, 64 dead soldiers and two dead civilians — and not to agree to anything that its own people could view as accepting failure or defeat.

Considering the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the respective demands may assist any foreign governments which are genuinely interested in ending the infernal cycle of violence and making progress toward a durable peace with some measure of justice to decide which side they should be seeking to convince or compel to be reasonable.

Is it unreasonable to demand, as Palestine does, that residents of Gaza be permitted to leave their cage; to build a proper port; to rebuild their airport (destroyed by Israel in 2002); to farm their fields, even within three kilometers of their border with Israel; to fish their waters more than three nautical miles offshore; to export their produce and to import basic necessities?

Additionally, is it unreasonable to demand that the 61 Palestinians released in the Shalit prison swap and effectively kidnapped by Israel soon after the kidnapping in the West Bank of three young settlers be re-released?

This is all that Palestine has been demanding. To what other people could such modest demands be denied, as they have been throughout seven years of siege and blockade?

On the other hand, is it reasonable to demand, as Israel does, that, prior to any definitive agreement ending the occupation, Gaza be completely “demilitarized,” thereby stripping its people of any means of resisting their 47-year-long occupation (a right of resistance to foreign occupation being recognized by international law) or even of reminding a world which has preferred to ignore them of their miserable existence.

A high degree of “demilitarization” of the State of Palestine might well be agreed to in a definitive agreement ending the occupation, since Palestinians would not wish to give Israel any future excuse to re-invade and re-occupy Palestine, but what is needed now is not acquiescence in the occupation but the end of the occupation.

For the Israeli government, the best result that it can now realistically hope for is to maintain the status quo ante (including the siege of Gaza) and to again get away with murder, and, with Western powers exerting enormous pressures on Palestine not to join the International Criminal Court or otherwise seek recourse to international law to protect the Palestinian people, Israel should be able to achieve this simply by not agreeing to anything with the Palestinians.

Such a result would clearly be unjust and unsatisfactory for Palestine and ensure yet another round of death and destruction in the near future.

Only serious and principled outside pressure on Israel to accede to most of the reasonable Palestinian demands, accompanied by credible threats of meaningful adverse consequences for Israeli obstinacy, would offer any hope of achieving a win-win result which could make yet another replay of this latest onslaught unlikely.

Unfortunately, with the United States, the major European states and Egypt all firmly aligned on Israel’s side, any such serious and principled pressure is difficult to imagine in the absence of some game-changing Palestinian initiative.

With a view to saving Israeli face while ending the siege of Gaza (and subsequently the occupation of the entire State of Palestine), the Palestinian leadership should publicly request the deployment of UN, US or NATO troops to both Gaza and the West Bank to protect both Israelis and Palestinians from further violence pending a full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied State of Palestine.

Neither Israelis nor Palestinians will have peace or security until the occupation ends on either a decent two-state or a democratic one-state basis, and the current round of Gaza massacres may have produced a moment when even Western governments, notwithstanding their knee-jerk pro-Israel public pronouncements, are conscious of this reality and could, if given a significant prod and incentive to act on this consciousness, actually do so.

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect Ma’an News Agency’s editorial policy.

Mirrored from Maan News Agency


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9 Responses

  1. Yes, I wish the adept talent of Israel and its supporters in media had been used for the past several years to advocate for an internlational police force to contol the access points from Egypt, Israel and the seas into Gaza .

    The strife in Sinai plus the 2012 violence between Hamas and Israel should have already resulted in control of smurggled arms, plus inspections within Gaza to find out where millions of dollars of impoirted concrete to rebuild Gaza went (into Tunnels). Problem is, Israel never wants to expand UN or intern juridiciton over neighborhoods it likes to patrol(Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, Gaza, Golan).

    Result this year alone? A mess. Kidnappings, murders, shelling in nroth and south, bombing of Gaza, negative impact on Israel economy as well as obviously, Gaza and PA Areas A-C. It is useless to rehash the past, point fingers, and continue threats to expel or micromanage hostile populations. International aid, including miltiary aid by the US and EU to Israel, and Gulf aid to Hamas, must be conditioned on completion of opening of all commerce and movement of workers and capital freely throughout Mandatory Palestine. Open up the economies, choke off the arms, forget about the two states for now.

    The Change: outside investment comes with strict controls for both Israelis and Palestinians. Or they can pay for their “armies”, support their currencies and develop their ports and agriculture all by themselves.

    The rest of the world can survive, if needed, quite well without either “Palestine” or “Israel”.

    • Shame on you to suggest that an Israeli is worth far more than many Palestinians. To put your comment in reverse – many thousands of Palestinians killed by Israel, more thousands imprisoned by Israel and many thousands ethnically cleansed by Israel don’t count? Shame on you.

    • In my mind, they don’t count any more. You and your ilk demonstrate your inhumanity and for humans, we must devalue you for our kind and the future of mankind, which you obviously are not!

  2. There are some problems getting from here to there, of course, and those who profit from the current situation will, shall we say, continue to march:

    “Forming a new operation: The Security Council determines the deployment of a new UN Peacekeeping operation.” link to

    The missions: link to

    How well have they worked: link to

    But it could work so much better, of course. Except, perhaps, for all us humans and our rulers and elites and traditions… and guns, of course, in all their forms.

  3. If gaza were to be completely free of all rockets and mortars….with the Abbas people in charge…then Israel would have no choice but to open the blockade …then gaza can be re built once and for all…..problem is the Hamas …can this be done with them in power ?…?…?

    • You might want to review the last 100 years. Even if Gaza was completely defenseless, Israel would still find an excuse to brutally oppress the people of Gaza because Israel wants the land and the Arabs gone.

      In fact, I am thinking more and more that Israel’s real goal is to drive the people of Gaza south into Egypt and stick Egypt with the problem (and Al-Sisi is so paranoid about the Muslim Brotherhood, he is helping Israel achieve its goal).

      As for Abbas, how much longer will he live? I am not talking about him being killed, but natural death. The again, being killed is a very high probability. .Once he is gone, the power struggle will be over who can actually deliver salvation for the Palestinians and Hamas has a better reputation than Fatah.

      Hamas is NOT the problem. The problem is Israeli oppression and greed. Fatah has FAILED for 65 years. Even if Hamas were to “magically” disappear, do you really think Fatah would take its place? Or would Hamas be replaced by an even more militant group? Remember that “moderates” have achieved less than zero.

      Israel has actually facilitated its own doom by treating Abbas like a sock puppet. When Abbas is gone, things will just get worse for Israel. Israel will not get any better deal than they can get today.

      Instead of focusing on Hamas, look at the long term power dynamics and social trends. Hamas is not the problem – Israel is the problem.

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