TEL AVIV Ñ The international community does not appear capable of
deploying a military force that can maintain a ceasefire between Israel and
Palestinians, a study says.
The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies said that neither the European
NATO has sufficient troops or firepower to engage in operations against
Palestinian insurgents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The report by the
Tel Aviv University-based center said any international combat force could
be vulnerable to Palestinian attacks.
The European Union has been examining the feasibility of a military
mission to enforce a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Authority
and ensure the establishment of a Palestinian state as
part of an international plan called the roadmap. The force has been
promoted by France as a means to provide both Israel and the PA with
security amid repeated breakdowns of efforts to end the 31-month-old war.
Entitled "Can International Forces Rescue The Road Map?" the report
examined the use of two emerging forces being established for humanitarian
and peacekeeping duties. They are the European Rapid Reaction Force [ERRF]
and NATO Reaction Force [NRF].
"All in all, it appears that in the current circumstances, neither the
ERRF nor the NRF provides a viable solution to the problem of rescuing the
road map from those determined not to follow it," the report, authored by
senior researcher and former Israeli Defense Ministry official Uzi Eilam,
The European force is already involved in peacekeeping operations in
and has formally assumed responsibility from NATO for peacekeeping in
Macedonia. In 2004, it is scheduled to take over responsibility for NATO's
17,000-member force in Bosnia.
The report said the ERRF lacks critical capabilities such as air-to-air
refueling, combat search-and-rescue, nuclear, biological and chemical
protection, special operations forces and unmanned aerial vehicles. In
addition, the EU has not approved the force's budget of between $6 billion
and $8 billion.
"For it to become a truly effective and relevant peacekeeping force, two
main obstacles need to be overcome: the gap in capabilities, and the
political disunity and confusion in Europe, exacerbated by the
double-enlargement of the EU and NATO," the report said.
The report said the European force could not be introduced into the
region until phase one of the roadmap is launched. This includes a
ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal to positions deployed before September 2000
and PA control of insurgency groups.
"Even a ceasefire of six months may not be sufficient to meet these
conditions," the report said. "And even if it is, there is a further
obstacle: the deep-seated Israeli distrust of the EU as biased in favor of
The report said the NATO reaction force, which envisions a unit of
20,000 troops with rapid-response capabilities, is not meant for the
low-intensity conflict that is taking place between Israel and the
Palestinians. The NATO force is meant for initial capability in October 2004
and full-fledged operational status two years later.
The European force, the report, said appears better designed to
implement monitoring and truce observation roles. In contrast, the NATO
force, aimed for high intensity combat operations, would be more appropriate
for search-and-destroy missions against insurgency bases in such countries
as Indonesia, Yemen and Morocco.
"If Phase I of the road map is accomplished, there will be no need for
an NRF-type fighting force," the report said. "Conversely, if there is no
progress on the road map, the nature of the terrorist organizations and
their methods of operation will limit the NRF's ability to cope with the
problem. Instead, the NRF will simply provoke violent opposition from
Palestinians convinced that an American-led force is little more than a
substitute for the Israeli army."