Saturday, February 04, 2006

US Israel Palestine;with Hamas in power

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Friday, January 27, 2006

How to create a more constructive US role in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace?

What good is democracy if guys elect a Hamas? The same thing ahd happened when Hitler was elected..

Now that Sharon is out and likely to remain out and Hamas seems to be coming to power with their 76/132 win in palestine what can the current US Administration do to continue to advance the Israeli Palestenian issue and reduce anti american feelings.. By putting onself in the shoes of a " hawkish "washington policy maker one can try to simulate the current thinking going forward. Here is a half baked attempt:)
How to create a more constructive US role in advancing an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement so as to remove Palestine as an anti American symbolism in the Islamic world. This engagement has to be balanced against the fragmentations in domestic Israeli politics now that Sharon is out as well as the US’s foreign policy objectives in the Middle East will change post Iraq.
Being seen as an honest broker through resolving in unbiased manner the Israeli Palestine conflict will improve our image in the Islamic world, reduce anti American sentiment that has been building up over the last 5 years and allow us to win regional influence on behalf of peace. This will strengthen American predominance in Middle East and set the stage for subsequent focus on greater democratization in GCC countries.
US National Interests:
Vital Interests: Repairing relationships with the Islamic world will enable us to continue the war on terror as Arab support for fight on terrorism, reducing threat from WMD (no body talks about it these days but to my mind the threat still exists - it is no apparition) would all be easier to achieve after Israeli-Palestinian peace. (High Threat)
Important Interests: a)Improve relationships with a portion of 1.3 B Muslim consumers (Low Threat) b)encouraging democracy and political reforms in Middle east (Medium Threat)
A two-state solution through negotiation, an end to Israeli occupation and enforceable security guarantees for Israel through:
- Palestinian terrorist infrastructure to be thoroughly dismantled and Hamas reformed.
- Israel to evacuate settlement outposts, freeze settlement activity and withdraw from reoccupied territory.
- Both sides to cease acts of provocation.
Given the historical failure of such well meaning intentions we need to be cognizance of Israeli and Palestinian skepticism. On the Israeli aspect we need to recognize the fragmentation of Israeli domestic politics where for the a) "No choice/national camp"; we need to weaken alliances and US support b) for the "Peace Camp"; we need to support Sharon’s past efforts through funding the development of modernizing programs, developing more secular values through reforming the education system, separation of religion and state, and integration of Jewish identity.
For the Hamas we need to encourage and incentives them to a) demonstrate peaceful coexistence with Israel b) it would not make sense to strengthen the new elected leadership and help em do their job . Arafat's passing away has been a boon PBUH but this Hamas business is from the frying pan to the fire. c) enact a constitution assuring the rule of law, independent judiciary, and respect for human rights d) take steps to bring transparent and accountable governance. This is one of the most important issues methinks
Option 1: Let Israel and Palestine continue the current negotiation as well as phased Israeli withdrawal and US to a) provide a third party security environment for Palestine b) manage the other constituencies . By this I mean :
a) Set an international NATO /UN/Palestine Authorities led security force, post phased Israeli withdrawal, in the West Bank and Gaza for maintaining peace and building security and policing capacity through training and support. After 9-12 months devolve authority and responsibility to Palestine with a UN monitoring role. Having a peace background will allow for a climate of negotiation on final boundaries, build trust for an eventual settlement in 2 years time. Set an international panel to monitor and judge Israeli and Palestine pre agreed milestones during interim period
b) Hold both Palestine govt. and Israel accountable for violations . No further Israeli support for expanding settlements. Send strong message to Syria and Iran that support for Hamas and terrorist nations will not be acceptable. Negotiate with Palestine that not all refugees can return to Israel for that will destabilize the demographics.
Pros: Provide a peaceful environment for negotiations to process and trust building
Cons: a) Fighting peace disruptors will be seen as fighting Palestinians and alienate Muslims b) Fighting/subduing settlers /casualties will be very unpopular in Israel c) Israel may not trust its defense to outsiders d)Israel and Palestine, left to themselves, will probably not be able to achieve peace
Option 2: Assist to create new Palestine leadership going forward if the current leadership falters and fails to marginalize radicals or fails to engage and win Israeli trust through successful action. After this is done make efforts to renew the peace process Alienate radicals, put pressure to reduce Palestine support for militant factions ( problem is Hamas itself is the Palestine Authority now) and marginalize radicals in 1 year’s time. Reform Palestine govt and build credible institutions and continue negotiations after this is done. Explicit monitoring for curbing Israeli excesses and Palestine terrorism in the interim period.
Pros: a) Will be better for Palestine for the long term. b) Israel will be more open and trusting and may give larger concessions c) Has potential to break stalemate of last decade
Cons: a) Will be seen as destabilizing and interfering in Palestine in the Islamic press b) No guarantees c) No guarantees that radical elements will not come to power and this has the risk to take the peace process back many years
Take option 1 while setting the stage for some elements of option 2 as described below in the implementation plan.
a) Press to set up a UN/NATO led police force with an explicit mandate to maintain law and order in West Bank, Gaza and other pre-agreed territories.
b) Influence outcome of negotiation by instilling need for making concessions in key areas:
(1) Palestine Authority to recognize that all of east Jerusalem as part of the new Palestine may not be a viable
(2) Transfer of 90% territory from West Bank, Gaza to Palestine Authority and putting pressure on Israel to compensate for territory withheld /make alternate arrangements, dismantle settlements
(3) Pressure on Palestine Authority that pre 1948 immigrant return would be unacceptable and seek a common date between 1948-1967
(4) Reiterate 2 state solution through negotiation
c) president/condi to announce in speech the implementation plan
d) Make available funds for the Appropriations Committee for refugee and migration needs. Work closely with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the International Organization for Migration, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as nongovernmental organizations.
e) Make available funds to develop institutions, further legal reforms in the West Bank and Gaza
f) Issue of Jerusalem to be resolved through negotiations
g) Continue US support
Sticks: Exports from Israeli settlements should not be treated as originating from Israel for congessional support. Further aid to Palestine to be tied to it making the phased transition from a liberation movement to a government that now exists. Strengthen the Palestinian Legislative Council’s role in matters of aid deployment.
Carrots: Provide funding to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and thus reduce the appeal of extremist groups
This could be one set of ways to look at issues as they stand today- atleast as they are reported in the popular media. But none of these will work IF HAMAS comes to form a coalition government..Jeez whtat a mess!!


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