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A disarmed Palestinian state?

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    Should a future Palestinian state be disarmed? Should US or NATO troops be stationed along the Jordan River? Would a two-state solution allow for one of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2009
      Should a future Palestinian state be disarmed? Should US or NATO
      troops be stationed along the Jordan River? Would a two-state
      solution allow for one of the states to be less-than-fully sovereign
      when it comes to importing arms and stationing troops along the border?

      A disarmed Palestinian state?

      During an off-the-record meeting in Washington, DC on November 10, one
      of Obama's senior foreign policy advisers stated that pushing a
      two-state solution on Israel and the Palestinians had to take place
      with great urgency, as it was the best way to turn around the Middle
      East (which he defined as including Afghanistan and Pakistan). Three
      elements of the plan the United States is to push are well known (no
      refugee return, a divided Jerusalem, and redrawn 1967 borders), but
      the fourth is much less often explored. Namely that the Palestinian
      state be disarmed and that US or NATO troops be stationed along the
      Jordan River.

      I suggest that this fourth condition is a dangerous trap, despite the
      fact that such troops played a very salutary role in the DMZ in Korean
      and - during the Cold War - in Germany. Before I proceed I should note
      that I am free to quote what was said at the meeting, but not to
      mention who said what or the name of the organization that hosted the
      meeting. I should also note that the same ideas are found in a new
      book America and the World, wholly composed of interviews with
      Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, conducted by Washington Post
      columnist David Ignatius. In the book, both interviewees agreed that
      "They [Israel and the Palestinians] need a heavier hand by the United
      States than we have traditionally practiced." Brzezinski suggests "an
      American line along the Jordan River," and Scowcroft favors putting a
      "NATO peacekeeping force" on the West Bank.

      HOW CAN I count the ways the fourth condition is a dangerous trap?
      First of all, while the first three conditions are almost impossible
      to reverse once in place, the fourth one can be changed by a simple
      act of Congress or an order by a future American president, or - the
      current one. Abba Eban once compared a United Nations force stationed
      on the Israeli-Egyptian border, which was removed just before Nasser
      attacked Israel, as an umbrella that is folded when it rains. The new
      umbrella is not much more reliable.

      Second, the American troops in Iraq, and the NATO ones in Afghanistan,
      are unable to stop terrorist bombs and rocket attacks in those parts.
      There is no reason to hold that they would do better in the West Bank.
      Third, there are very few precedents for demilitarized states - by force.

      A two-state solution means to practically everyone involved, except a
      few foreign policy mavens, two sovereign states. A sovereign state is
      free to import all the arms and troops it wants. One second after the
      Palestinian state is declared, many in the Arab world, Iran, and
      surely in Europe, not to mention Russia and China, will hold that
      "obviously" the new free state cannot be prevented from arming itself,
      whatever it says on some parchment or treaty. And if this not allowed,
      whatever therapeutic effects the creation of a Palestinian state may
      engender will be about the same size as the ending of the Israeli
      occupation of Gaza had - either too small to measure or a negative one.

      A strong case for a two-state solution has been made, but it better be
      based on the Palestinians developing their own effective forces and an
      Israeli presence on the Jordan River. Neither can rely on the United
      States, beleaguered as it is, or conflict- and casualty-averse NATO to
      show the staying power for peacekeeping which neither mustered in
      Kosovo, Bosnia, or Haiti, and which they have never provided in Sudan
      and the Congo.

      There is a new dawn in America, but when the sun rises in Washington,
      it is often close to sunset in the Middle East.

      Amitai Etzioni is Professor of International Relations at The George
      Washington University. For more discussion, see his book: Security
      First (Yale, 2007) or www.securityfirstbook.com

      Etzioni can be reached at comnet@....



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