So many times in recent history we have seen the UN intervene in many areas of conflict. So many times we have seen the blue helmets of UN peacekeeping troops enter such areas to restore stability and yet for some reason this simple task does not encompass Gaza and West Bank.
Where are UN peacekeepers at the moment and why is Palestine not a number one priority on their list? Could this be manipulation from the US and Israeli sector and the influence of the Pro Israeli Lobby Groups that hold significant control of politics in congress? Are those in the US Congress fearful of loosing their campaign funds or financial support?
It is clear that the United Nations is no longer able to fulfill its obligation to the international community and therefore is guilty of gross neglect. The UN currently has blue helmets operating in the region, so let’s try to understand why Palestine does not receive any UN attention? The weakness of the UN in pushing forward the Goldstone report also shows that the UN is clearly not in control of itself.
Let’s first look at the purpose and role of UN Peacekeepers (as taken off their webpage):
United Nations peacekeeping is a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict create the conditions for lasting peace. Today’s peacekeepers undertake a wide variety of complex tasks, from helping to build sustainable institutions of governance, to human rights monitoring, to security sector reform, to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants. So what has gone so terribly wrong with this organization in relation to Palestine (especially Gaza) and has the United Nations lost it direction?
With the UN currently operating in the Middle East it leads me to believe that really the solution to the on going Israeli – Palestinian issue can be resolved in exactly the same way. So what are they doing in the region? Here’s an extraction from their report: Supervising ceasefire and disengagement agreement:
Israel – Syria: From early March 1974, the situation in the Israel-Syria sector became increasingly unstable, and firing intensified. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established on 31 May 1974 by Security Council resolution 350 (1974), following the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. Since then, UNDOF has remained in the area to maintain the ceasefire between the Israeli and Syrian forces and to supervise the implementation of the disengagement agreement.
Monitoring cessation of hostilities and helping ensure humanitarian access to civilian population:
Israel – Lebanon: Originally, UNIFIL was created by the Security Council in March 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area. The mandate had to be adjusted twice, due to the developments in 1982 and 2000.Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Council enhanced the Force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.
Helping to bring stability in the Middle East:
Set up in May 1948, UNTSO was the first ever peacekeeping operation established by the United Nations. Since then, UNTSO military observers have remained in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region to fulfill their respective mandates.
UNTSO personnel have also been available at short notice to form the nucleus of some other peacekeeping operations worldwide. The availability of UNTSO's military observers for almost immediate deployment after the Security Council had acted to create a new mission has been an enormous contributory factor to the early deployment and the success of those operations.
Israel – Palestine (Gaza) UN Peacekeeping activity ZERO
What I find ironic about this entire situation is the fact that all of the above is all focused on the aggression by Israel and its inability to seek genuine peace with its Arab neighbours. If one adds up the cost of this aggression and the added support in military aid to Israel we are talking about billions of dollars. Wouldn’t you think a better option would be for UN Peacekeeping forces to be based on all sides of the Israel border? This could then point the way to the demilitarisation of Israel to a level on balance with their neighbours.
Why is so much attention and money being made available to Israel and yet no attention is made towards Palestine? How could this unrest between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians be resolves and is it as complicated as they are making out?
I have to say that the solution is as simple as any other conflict area and the UN is holding the key! How could this conflict be resolved and is it so clear cut and simple? You may be shocked to learn that it is not only simple but it can be implemented immediately and without delay. Before such a plan came into being one clear message has to be drawn in the sand and that is that Palestine does not have to be submissive towards Israel anymore and Israel’s current power, occupation and blockade over Palestine must be taken away!!
The road map to peace does not exist and has never existed and it is clear that Israel will continue to nibble away at Palestinian Territory in the West Bank with the long term intention of diminishing the Arab population to a small enclave of insignificant size. So how could a UN plan work and what is required?
It is clear now that Palestine must direct all of its energy directly with the United Nations and likewise Israel must also communicate via the United Nations. Direct dialogue does not work as the hatred and lack of trust has gone too far. Other regional players must also be invited to participate and resolve the many issues between Israel and Palestine. I would also have to say that the West must now really take a back seat and allow the countries in the region to put forward suggestions.
First the UN should make a decision to provide troops in a peacekeeping role. These troops must not be NATO combat troops but consist of blue helmet peacekeepers. The basis for this force would be to secure both sides of all borders between Israel – Lebanon, Israel – Syria, Israel – Gaza, Israel – West Bank, West Bank – Jordan and Gaza – Egypt.
Once the peacekeepers have taken up position to police and guard the borders the entire blockade can be lifted by land, sea and air. It would then be up to Israel to discuss with the UN any problems they are facing and likewise the Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank would discuss their problems with the UN directly.
The next step would be to construct and elevated highway between the North East corner of Gaza and the South West corner of West Bank in order for the two enclaves to come together and to share a common goal of becoming one and to allow trade and growth to take place. The Israeli Territory would not be interfered with as Israeli traffic would pass under the highway without any direct contact with the Palestinians.
Once this has taken place the UN should nurture a get together for all political parties in Palestine to come together in preparation for the development of both enclaves in both the political sense and commercially. Once a deal has been struck the next stage would be to develop Palestine. The plan could be a phased development as follows:
1. Firstly the borders onshore and offshore have to be redefined via the United Nations and UNCLOS and the Oslo Accord and all other existing plans be scrapped and renegotiated. Application for full Statehood would then take place and normal sovereignty would prevail
2. All existing offshore production, exploration and drilling by the current Joint Venture US – Israel company be stopped until clarification has been received from UNCLOS on legal maritime boundaries. The same applies to any such work onshore that involves natural resources in disputed areas i.e. West Bank.
3. Existing areas of natural resources must then be revealed as to their extent and location to determine legal ownership. This obviously must be reviewed once the borders have been clarified. If any such field extends into Gazan Waters then the field should be deemed as jointly owned and if proven to be so then Israel would have to compensate Palestine accordingly for the oil/gas that it has already taken.
4. If fields are jointly owned then negotiations must take place as to how to commercialise the field and share a common resource.
5. The original natural resources licenses and contract between Palestine – Israel - British Gas becomes null and void due to lack of activity and breach of original terms.
6. A new plan would have to be drawn up for all offshore activity as the offshore area would now be significantly larger with Palestine having full legal waters and its own EEZ. This plan would allocate exploration permit areas and then offer them for tender.
7. The existing known fields of Gaza Marine 1 and 2 would be up for tender in the normal way but would offer Palestine a more realistic share ratio than the one originally offered.
8. Israel would not lay any claim to Palestinians natural resources and therefore it would be left to the joint venture company that brings the field into production to sell its product at the best price and to the economic well being of Palestine.
9. The natural gas and any oil from the entire Palestinian EEZ should be piped directly into the Gaza Strip to encourage the development of a Domestic Gas Plant (Domgas) and a Liquefied Natural Gas Plant (LNG) facilities.
10. Once the above two plants are in situ then a pipeline can be run to a new Gas Turbine Power Stations in both Gaza and West Bank to secure its independence from Israel. The products will be piped along the elevated highway between Gaza and West Bank. Both enclaves can then run Domgas to all homes and industries and public transport and commercial vehicles could also run on Natural Gas.
11. A major LNG export terminal and seaport could then be built on the Gaza coast to export LNG to world markets.
12. A possible pipeline from the Domgas facility in Gaza could cross the border into Israel and link in with their existing pipeline network if the Israeli Government would accept Palestinian Gas.
13. The international community would then help Palestine flourish into a progressive international market by developing the internal infrastructure of both Gaza and West Bank. This would entail re development of the damaged airport in Gaza and the airport in West Bank along with the road infrastructure.
14. Finally the development of Palestine’s own Airline and Shipping Line should take place connecting Palestine with the world and possibly a commercial ferry service between Gaza – Cairo, Gaza – Cyprus, Gaza – Lebanon and Gaza - Syria etc.
15. Any existing Israeli subsea pipelines that enter the legal limits of Gaza would be liable to a transit fee and back dated accordingly.
During this entire phased development the United Nations Peacekeepers would remain in place to act as International Police and Border Guard. There should be no involvement from the US, UK and EU except in having the ability to tender for contract as and when they are available. The success of such a mammoth task must be left in the hands of the UN and the neighborouring countries. This is a Middle East issue and should not be overshadowed by “Western Interference or its associated foreign policies”
I have myself have much experience in most of the above areas and would be more than happy to mediate over the success and implementation of such a master plan. As I have said so many times before….the wealth in Gaza’s offshore reserves is huge with many more hidden treasures (not forgetting the importance of re establishing Gaza’s Fishing Industry that is so vital to its well being). We must cast aside this hatred and allow Palestine to develop in peace….this can only be achieved by giving its own enclave back to its people i.e. West Bank and for all Israeli to leave its territory as it did in Gaza.
One must give the people of Gaza and West Bank a vision…..Maybe “Vision 2020” I truly believe that Palestine could become the Dubai of the Eastern Mediterranean. With all its wealth offshore I would ask you all is this possible? From my own experience I can say categorically “YES”
The people of the Middle East have been very much part of my life and I can assure you that they are truly very nice people. We in the west have tarnished them by repeating that they are the axis of evil when rather the opposite exists. It is the iron fist foreign policies and greed of the west that has now reached boiling point. They want control of the vast wealth that lies beneath Arab soils, at whatever the cost and we must never allow this to happen. They want a war with Iran as this creates wealth for them in arms sales whilst at the same time puts the price of a barrel of oil up to levels that feed directly into their pockets…it would also allow them to take control of this vital resourceful region. The axis of evil lies within our own shores.
We in the west should pull out of all conflicts in their region and close all military bases….. then we will see the term terrorism disappear. We have to learn to trade with them and not fight them. We have all lost our direction and the ability to love thy neighbour. I have shared many tears with these people who have lost so much, been tortured or who are now living overseas and can never return. It is only when you share their pain do you appreciate what has caused it!! So the big question is “Could Palestine receive Peacekeepers”? Not if the US has its way….Clinton on one hand tells Israel to lift the blockade but if this came before the Security Council the US would Veto it. The UN just like its predecessor, the League of Nations, is dead in the water!!
Peter Eyre – Middle East Consultant – 2/2/ 2010