One thing is for sure: the current ideas for ending (or even easing) the conflict aren’t working. Both sides are at each others throat and seeking the faintest advantage over their enemy. No proposal has worked, there is no trust on either side, things are a total mess.
Perhaps out of desperation (a good idea borne out of desperation is still a good idea), two powerful Republican senators have floated a new trial balloon: American troops could be placed between the warring parties to keep the peace. M.J. Rosenberg in his Israel Policy Forum weekly column wrote:
That is why Senator John Warner is calling for the deployment of NATO troops to the area, and Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel, is suggesting that the West Bank and Gaza become a US trusteeship, with US troops serving as peacekeepers. In the words of former NSC staffer and author Kenneth Pollack, “separating Israelis and Palestinians physically will give breathing room to the new Palestinian administration trying to fight terrorists and protection to Israel.
Israel has over the years always nixed this idea for fear of diminishing its own sovereignty and lessening its ability to deal with security issues in any way it chooses. But things may be desperate enough now (or perhaps the Israelis are more trusting of the idea that the U.S. will protect Israel’s interests), for Sharon and the Israelis to embrace this idea, if not willingly then at least grudgingly. First, Senator John Warner and last week, Richard Lugar endorsed the idea of U.S. forces playing a peacekeeping role in the conflict either alone or alongside international forces. Their statements are important because Warner is the leading Republican senator on military issues and Lugar the leading foreign policy figure in the Senate. I wouldn’t be surprised if this initiative might have been initiated or at least coordinated with the White House in an orchestrated campaign. Bush may be laying the groundwork for the period later down the line when both sides may be ready to advance to the stage of disengaging and allowing other forces to keep the peace between them.
I, for one, have always supported the idea of outside military forces maintaining peace & security for both sides. It’s clear that neither side can impose its will on the other militarily or in any other fashion. Nothing either side does to the other diminishes the will to resist and fight back. So, like in Kosovo, Bosnia and so many other places, peacekeepers are needed to do what neither side is willing to do on its own.
You may ask what happens if the peacekeepers are unwelcome, even attacked in their peacekeeping posts. Well, we’ve dealt with these situations before especially in the countries named above. It will be up to the Arab nations to impose upon recalcitrant Palestinians the idea that peacekeeping MUST be allowed to work. The U.S. can do the same for the Israelis. The message must go forth that resistance to the peacekeepers will not be countenanced. I believe that this message, if delivered consistently, will work. And if it does work, it may allow two peoples who detest each other some breathing room. This in turn may allow enough time to intervene for both sides to begin to see some good in the other. This would be the beginning of a lasting peace.
It may be the only way to bring lasting peace.