Israeli think tank releases plan for international peacekeeping force

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel's leading strategic center has detailed a plan for an international peacekeeping force to maintain any ceasefire in the war with the Palestinian Authority.

The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, part of Tel Aviv University, envisioned the introduction and deployment of United Nations or international troops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a means to enforce any Palestinian ceasefire. The report, authored by senior researcher Shlomo Brom, asserted that the Palestinian Authority would be powerless to ensure that the range of foreign-financed insurgency groups would end attacks against Israel.

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The report envisioned a multinational force that would resemble that currently being deployed in Kosovo and East Timor. The mandate of these forces included restoring order and helping build stability and civil institutions.

Brom, a former strategic chief in the military, wrote a report in 1999 that detailed an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon. The report was said to have been studied by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who ordered such a pullout in May 2000.

In December, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk called on the Jewish state to agree to an international peacekeeping force as part of a solution to enforce a ceasefire and prevent a reoccupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The idea has been embraced by at least one senior minister in the government led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The Jaffee report said any international force deployed in the West Bank or Gaza Strip must assume responsibility for areas from which Israel withdraws, including border crossings into Egypt and Jordan. The force would also have to guarantee the security of any expected Palestinian state and deter the penetration of foreign elements seeking to destabilize the Palestinian state and operate against Israel.

"Many countries are more willing to participate in missions of this type for two reasons: one, the traditional threats that their military forces were designed to deal with have disappeared; and two, these countries have come to the conclusion that channeling international forces to regional and local trouble spots extinguishes conflagrations that otherwise could spread and threaten their own security," the report said.

Brom said that currently the risk of an Israeli withdrawal and international peacekeepers is greater than the prospect of success. But he urged the Sharon government to overcome its antipathy to international guarantees and consider the introduction of peacekeepers as part of a solution that would include withdrawal and Palestinian statehood.

"The deployment of multinational forces is a complex issue, encompassing many options for international involvement and demanding much more extensive assessment," the report said. "Although at present for Israel the risks of such a force seem greater than the chances of success, it is important that the potential applications of a solution of this sort be considered seriously."

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