West Bank Needs Armed UN Peacekeeping Force
Blue-helmeted Nepalese peacekeepers arrive in Juba, South Sudan in February 2014. (UN Photo/Isaac Billy via Flickr)

West Bank Needs Armed UN Peacekeeping Force

Thanks to the honesty of the current prime minister, as well as the statements by the former US president regarding his assessment of the previous premier, there is clearly no interest in Israel for a negotiated peace with the Palestinians.

In the absence of a desire for peace by the Israeli occupiers and a rejection of the globally accepted two-state solution, a period of chaos and the absence of any semblance of tranquility is bound to take place. Israeli Jewish settlers living illegally in the Palestinian territories are armed to the teeth and, as Israeli human rights organizations have documented, are supported by the Israeli army.

In fact, it is now clear that what Palestinians have always said was true: Settlements and settlers are part of Israel’s long-term occupation strategy. Settlements are built in strategic locations to cut off a contiguous Palestinian state and make the Israeli army’s work easier. Most countries warn their population to stay away from areas of trouble that could put their lives in danger, but Israel encourages its citizens to live in troubled areas.

The United States, which has abandoned any effort to push for an independent Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel, is focusing on the dangers that illegal Jewish settlers are posing. What the US needs to do now is follow the wise advice of activist Gershon Baskin. If it is genuine about supporting the two-state solution, he argues, then the US can’t continue to refuse to recognize the Palestinian state which makes up the second part of the two-state solution, since Israel has been recognized since 1948.

The violence by Jewish settlers is not going to stop no matter what Washington says and regardless of the lip service that some Israeli defense officials pay to the concept of rule of law. We have seen what the courts can and cannot do. At best, they postpone honorable and just decisions such as the case of Sheikh Jarrah or that of Mohammad El Halabi, in jail for five and a half years on trumped-up charges and a mountain of evidence denying any wrongdoing by the humanitarian worker whose only sin is that he refuses to accept a plea bargain admitting to something he never did.

With the absence and inability of any serious Israeli effort to stem the illegal Jewish settlers’ violence and with the potential of a negotiated solution being vetoed by the new “three no’s” of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – no talks with the Palestinians, no meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and no to a two-state solution – the only remaining solution is an armed peacekeeping force.

What is needed is a neutral armed force that will ensure that the Jewish settlers stop their violence; their burning and destroying of Palestinian farms; and their almost nightly raids on unarmed Palestinian homes.

United Nations-sponsored blue helmets are needed now more than ever in the occupied territories.

In addition to putting an end to the illegal Jewish violence and Palestinian resistance to the illegal settlers, what is needed now is a neutral force that can keep things quiet until there is a change in Israel that will bring about a government that understands the need for a negotiated end to their occupation.

A blue-helmeted UN force can be made up of any neutral party including NATO or, if Israel insists, it can be made up of a multinational force such as the one that has been stationed in Sinai for decades.

The world community has plenty of experience in keeping peace and the UN has the power and the mandate to provide the political and legal cover for such a peacekeeping force.

With the absence of a political horizon, it is impossible to think of anything else. Palestinians are not going anywhere and, unfortunately, the well-armed illegal Jewish settlers also are not going anywhere soon. The only way to ensure there is no further bloodletting and violence in the areas surrounding these illegal settlements is by deploying a badly needed international peacekeeping force.

The current Israeli government led by right-wing zealots might reject such an idea on ridiculous claims that all of historic Palestine is their God-given territory. That could be explained in some radical Jewish circles but doesn’t muster credibility anywhere else. No matter what the Israelis, or the Palestinians, for that matter, claim, the facts are clear: Palestinians are not going anywhere and the sooner they are protected by an armed neutral force, the better for all concerned and the faster we will be able to bring sanity and proportional justice to this conflict.

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