Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Candidate for U.S. security adviser wants NATO force in West Bank

Aluf Benn

Guest Comment:How many recall that the European forces stationed at the Gaza-Israeli border ran and abandoned their post when Hamas and like jihadist forces attacked the Philadelphi corridor? NATO forces would be no different. Putting NATO forces to act as a buffer between the Palestinians and Israelis will do nothing to deter the Arab terrorists and will tie the hands of the IDF in responding. It is a recipe for disaster.

General James Jones, whom U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is widely expected to tap as his national security adviser, supports the deployment of an international force in the West Bank instead of the Israel Defense Forces. He also opposes Israel's demand to retain extensive security control over the territories even after a Palestinian state is established. Jones served as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian security issues over the past year. He was tasked in particular with formulating security arrangements between Israel and the future Palestinian state.

Jones is expected to play a key role in the Obama administration. According to U.S. press reports, he will be as strong as Henry Kissinger, the all-powerful national security adviser to President Richard Nixon. His Middle East experience will presumably accord him a senior position in formulating American policy in the region - though Israeli sources say he would probably take a broader view as national security adviser than he did as Rice's envoy.

Israel has worked hard over the past year to persuade the Bush administration to accept its proposals on security arrangements. Israel's main argument was that its major population centers are vulnerable to rocket and suicide attacks from the West Bank, and that security control of the Jordan Valley is essential to prevent weapons from being smuggled into the West Bank. Israel also demanded complete demilitarization of the future Palestinian state, Israeli control of border crossings and Israeli early warning stations in the mountains.

In response to Israel's claim that the Palestinians cannot be trusted with responsibility for security, Jones, a former NATO commander, proposed a NATO-based international force that would later transfer control to the Palestinians.

Israeli officials say that such a force sounds wonderful, but in practice cannot provide the intelligence necessary to prevent terror.
The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Annapolis envoy likely to advise Obama
Nov. 22, 2008
HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, Jpost correspondent in washington , THE JERUSALEM POST

WASHINGTON - Retired Gen. James L. Jones has emerged as a leading contender for national security adviser in a Barack Obama's administration.

Jones, the US Middle East security adviser and former supreme allied commander of NATO, was publicly praised by Obama during the campaign and several news sources reported Friday that the president-elect would like him to take the top foreign policy slot in the White House.

The sources referred to Obama's regard for Jones's four decades of military service, as well as the perspective he has provided on international issues and challenges.

Jones has avoided identifying himself on a partisan basis, but has criticized the running of the Pentagon by the Bush administration during the Iraq war.

Jones is currently serving as an envoy for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Annapolis process of the past year, consulting with Israelis and Palestinians about security measures.

He was reported to have drafted a report critical of some aspects of Israel's security stance toward the Palestinians during that time, but the report - which sources in the Israeli government feared would cause tension between the two countries - was never published.

In a rare interview that he gave to Inside the Pentagon at the end of last month, however, Jones urged the new administration to keep up the negotiations begun in Annapolis, warning that, "If they don't do that and they choose to start from ground zero again, then I think there would be a real tragedy, because there's real momentum and real progress here."

He told the outlet that "nothing is more important" in the Middle East than a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"If we don't get this right, and if organizations like Hizbullah and Hamas actually succeed in places like the West Bank and, in the long term, in Gaza, then you really do have a dramatically more serious situation strategically that could conceivably affect the future viability of Israel as a state," he said. "I mean, the noose will get tighter."

Also Friday, another foreign policy bigwig Obama has reportedly been consulting co-authored a Washington Post op-ed calling for the new administration to prioritize Israeli-Palestinian peace-making.

"Resolution of the Palestinian issue would have a positive impact on the region. It would liberate Arab governments to support US leadership in dealing with regional problems" as well as "dissipate much of the appeal of Hizbullah and Hamas, dependent as it is on the Palestinians' plight," writes Brent Scowcroft, who served as George H.W. Bush's national security adviser. "It would change the region's psychological climate, putting Iran back on the defensive and putting a stop to its swagger."

Obama has spoken positively of the older Bush's approach to foreign policy, notwithstanding his being a Republican. Scowcroft was joined by Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in crafting the article.

The two urge Obama to push for an agreement based on a return to slightly modified 1967 borders, compensation in lieu of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem hosting two capitals and the creation of a nonmilitarized Palestinian state.

The Orthodox Union was quick to criticize the piece, taking issue with those "who believe a solution is so 'well known' that it can be laid out in just one paragraph."

In a letter drafted in response, OU Public Policy Director Nathan Diament took particular exception to the concept of a shared Jerusalem.

"In suggesting this step, they ignore both the historical and religious Jewish claim to the city, and the fact that only under Israeli rule has Jerusalem been a free and open to all faiths," he wrote.

The Obama transition team did not respond to a request for comment clarifying Scowcroft's role or the status of Jones's possible appointment.
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A Disarmed Palestinian state?
Nov. 24, 2008

During an off-the-record meeting in Washington, DC on November 10, one of Obama's senior foreign policy advisers stated that pushing a two-state solution on Israel and the Palestinians had to take place with great urgency, as it was the best way to turn around the Middle East (which he defined as including Afghanistan and Pakistan). Three elements of the plan the United States is to push are well known (no refugee return, a divided Jerusalem, and redrawn 1967 borders), but the fourth is much less often explored. Namely that the Palestinian state be disarmed and that US or NATO troops be stationed along the Jordan River.

I suggest that this fourth condition is a dangerous trap, despite the fact that such troops played a very salutary role in the DMZ in Korean and - during the Cold War - in Germany. Before I proceed I should note that I am free to quote what was said at the meeting, but not to mention who said what or the name of the organization that hosted the meeting. I should also note that the same ideas are found in a new book America and the World, wholly composed of interviews with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, conducted by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. In the book, both interviewees agreed that "They [Israel and the Palestinians] need a heavier hand by the United States than we have traditionally practiced." Brzezinski suggests "an American line along the Jordan River," and Scowcroft favors putting a "NATO peacekeeping force" on the West Bank.

HOW CAN I count the ways the fourth condition is a dangerous trap? First of all, while the first three conditions are almost impossible to reverse once in place, the fourth one can be changed by a simple act of Congress or an order by a future American president, or - the current one. Abba Eban once compared a United Nations force stationed on the Israeli-Egyptian border, which was removed just before Nasser attacked Israel, as an umbrella that is folded when it rains. The new umbrella is not much more reliable.

Second, the American troops in Iraq, and the NATO ones in Afghanistan, are unable to stop terrorist bombs and rocket attacks in those parts. There is no reason to hold that they would do better in the West Bank. Third, there are very few precedents for demilitarized states - by force.

A two-state solution means to practically everyone involved, except a few foreign policy mavens, two sovereign states. A sovereign state is free to import all the arms and troops it wants. One second after the Palestinian state is declared, many in the Arab world, Iran, and surely in Europe, not to mention Russia and China, will hold that "obviously" the new free state cannot be prevented from arming itself, whatever it says on some parchment or treaty. And if this not allowed, whatever therapeutic effects the creation of a Palestinian state may engender will be about the same size as the ending of the Israeli occupation of Gaza had - either too small to measure or a negative one.

A strong case for a two-state solution has been made, but it better be based on the Palestinians developing their own effective forces and an Israeli presence on the Jordan River. Neither can rely on the United States, beleaguered as it is, or conflict- and casualty-averse NATO to show the staying power for peacekeeping which neither mustered in Kosovo, Bosnia, or Haiti, and which they have never provided in Sudan and the Congo.

There is a new dawn in America, but when the sun rises in Washington, it is often close to sunset in the Middle East.
The writer is Professor of International Relations at The George Washington University. For more discussion, see his book: Security First (Yale, 2007) or

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