World help needed in
Jarat Chopra, 5/5/2002
ISRAEL'S GOOD Friday invasion into Palestinian cities in the West
Bank profoundly altered the terms of the 18-month debate over international
intervention in the spiraling crisis in the Middle East. Negotiations
over minimal involvement in the form of monitoring and verification
have shifted to the need for a state-building enterprise reminiscent
of the multifunctional exercises in Kosovo, East Timor, and now
Afghanistan. The options are few, and the specifics require a high
standard of outside intervention for success.
The Good Friday
invasion witnessed medieval-style sieges of Palestinian population
centers, depriving more than one million Palestinian civilians of
food, water, and electricity. Water supplies are contaminated with
sewage, threatening an epidemic of cholera and typhoid. Roads have
been destroyed, and Israeli military checkpoints still block civilians
from reaching medical care.
perfected the destruction of essential basic services as a weapon
of war. The dimensions of the humanitarian disaster have yet to
be fully assessed - international and nongovernmental agencies are
still blocked from full access to the sites of destruction.
relief of the humanitarian disaster, Israel destroyed the Palestinian
Authority's governing capacity by the methodical gutting of civilian
ministries. Computers at the Ministry of Education, for example,
have been smashed, the facilities laid waste and records stolen,
setting back the school system indefinitely. Israel attacked the
main Palestinian security building with tanks, helicopter gunships,
and heavy caliber machine-gun fire, thereby destroying the only
instrument available to counter terrorist attacks and rendering
visionless and bankrupt President Bush's calls on President Arafat
''to do more.''
on terrorism'' was in effect a war against the Palestinian capacity
for governance while leaving militant groups largely intact and
an already embittered Palestinian population more resentful than
ever. Ironically, Israel's ''war on terrorism'' will have created
more terrorists than it fought.
intervention is the only means forward.
There are four
options. First, the Palestinian Authority resumes full responsibility
for security and governance; but this is no longer physically possible.
Second, Israel assumes such responsibility; but this would be unacceptable
to the Palestinians since it would simply intensify an already illegal
and excessively brutal military occupation. Third, the international
community assumes full responsibility; but based on past experiences,
this will be too burdensome, too dangerous, too slow, and too ineffective.
The only viable
option is the fourth, following a needs assessment: An international
peace-maintenance mission is deployed to the occupied territories
to reconstruct the Palestinian capacity for governance by working
with the Palestinians to rebuild police and security services as
well as civilian governing institutions.
Unless an international
protection force can make a difference in the daily lives of individuals,
by defending them against physical harassment or arbitrary detention,
it will quickly be dismissed as a fiction. This does not mean the
ability to go to war against armed elements, but does mean such
a force must be allowed to do more than observe and report.
An ideal operating
style would be similar to constabulary units, or police forces with
military status such as the Multinational Specialized Units in Bosnia
and Kosovo. Alternatively, military forces with a policing capability
can do the job, as the British Army has shown in the Balkans.
requirement of the intervention architecture is a dispute-resolution
mechanism. At the technical level of implementation, trilateral
committees for each task to be accomplished, composed of commanders
or civilian officials with line authority, should settle disagreements
in the field before they assume political proportions. In exceptional
cases, a party may resort to a senior political committee that can
finally determine conflicts and interpret any gaps in the mandate.
is bound to fail, as any attempt at a negotiated cease-fire has
proven, if its only aim is security stabilization. The scope of
the mandate must include, in addition to governance capacity building,
such political measures as a complete freeze on Israeli settlement
construction, guaranteeing Palestinians freedom of movement within
the occupied territories, and a well articulated framework with
concrete steps towards permanent status negotiations and a complete
end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
It is the political
component that will sustain any security effort. The United States
and Israel have proposed the opposite attempts at addressing security
while ignoring the occupation. The results have been disastrous
for both parties.
is a professor of international law at Brown University.
He was trapped in Ramallah for 11 days.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.