Thursday, July 30, 2009

Poorly Written International Guarantees Could Encourage Palestinian Violations

Weekly Commentary

Dr. Aaron Lerner
30 July 2009

"Israel, with her survival at stake, cannot afford to take chances.... The nature of the Israeli's situation is bound to influence their interpretation of ambiguous events. We, on the other hand, have an incentive to minimize such evidence, since the consequences of finding violations are so unpleasant. Violations force us to choose between doing something about them and thus risk the blowup of our initiative; or doing nothing and thus renege on our promises to Israel, posing the threat of her taking military action. Accordingly, we tend to lean over backwards to avoid the conclusion that the Arabs are violating the cease-fire unless the evidence is unambiguous."
Henry Kissinger to President Richard Nixon in 1970
[Henry Kissinger "White House Years", page 587]

“I wish to clarify that we are not talking about American or NATO soldiers defending us and doing the defense work of the State of Israel. We have never requested this, nor are we requesting it now. We are talking about an international guarantee, headed by the United States, for the demilitarization arrangements that we will establish. We wish them to make it clear that these arrangements will be completely legitimate, and that there will also be total legitimacy for any action deemed necessary to
preserve them. The purpose of this guarantee is that it adds a layer of deterrence against the intentions of those who may, in the future, wish to invalidate, or violate the demilitarization arrangements.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addresses National Defense College
graduates - July 28, 2009

Is Israel demanding a priori carte blanche from the world to be able to carry out whatever operations the Jewish State “deems necessary” inside Palestinian territory should Israel determine that the Palestinians have violated the demilitarization arrangements?

It would be useful for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his team to suggest what they have in mind.

Is Israel to determine there is a violation or some third party?

Historically, Arab violations are ignored by the world so if there is wording that Israel has the right to act if some third party determines that there is a violation then Israel will find itself in the situation that the third party declines to recognize that in fact a violation has taken place.

Is Israel to determine that the violation has been resolved or some third party?

Even if Israel proved beyond the shadow of doubt that a violation took place, Palestinian claims that the violation was rectified might be accepted at face value by a third party.

What kind of “total legitimacy for any action deemed necessary to preserve them” are we talking about?

When one says “action deemed necessary” – who does the “deeming”?

Is Israel to sit around waiting for some committee to review its operational plans for approval (which they might leak to the Arabs – but let’s not digress)?

These are not idle concerns.

Only someone intentionally ignoring Israel’s experience over the years with various forms of third party observers could dismiss these very serious issues.

Would international guarantees “deter” violations?

That depends on what they are.

Ironically, improperly worded guarantees that ultimately prevent Israel from
independently acting against Palestinian violations that it has independently identified could actually encourage violations.

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