Brazilians Can Save Israel

05/25/2011 11:55 am ET
  • Blake Fleetwood Former reporter for the New York Times and Daily News; taught Political Science at NYU

So, there are more bombings from southern Lebanon to the northern cities in Israel this weekend. What else is new? What would anyone expect?

The problem is not the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and the massive retaliation by Israeli troops against suspected Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.

The predicament is the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Israelis' refusal to allow peacekeeping forces in the region. It is no surprise that these policies have tragically backfired. After the Six Day War, David Ben-Gurion, the father of modern Israel, warned that the occupied lands were a "poisoned cup." His warnings were not heeded.

Terrorism is the symptom. The occupation - which condones the settlement of 200,000 militant Israelis in the occupied West Bank - is the disease. Eventually Israel will cure the disease by leaving the occupied lands. The sooner the better for Israeli civilians.

Israel is going to have to turn its back on most of the settlers, just as the French betrayed the Pied Noirs of North Africa. Only then can Israel secure its boarders. Ninety-seven percent of the Palestinians will think they have won back their lands. A few will remain disgruntled and will want to drive the Israelis into the sea, as the Islamic conqueror Saladin once drove the Christian Crusaders out of Jerusalem after a 200 year occupation in 1187.

But eventually, almost all Palestinians will come to accept Israel's right to exist. It is a convenient pretext to argue that this logical step will not do any good.

If Japanese tanks were patrolling the streets of downtown Los Angeles and building Japanese settlements in San Diego, you can be very sure that most Americans would support guerilla terrorists' actions. What makes the Palestinians so different?

Israelis are justified in defending themselves from terrorists and Palestinians are equally justified in taking violent action, even from bases in southern Lebanon, to end the Israeli occupation.

The horrific crisis is that hundreds of civilians are getting killed and maimed and nobody is ever justified in doing that - which both sides are doing all the time.

The Palestinians and Israelis are in a poisonous stalemate: two scorpions in a bottle slowly stinging themselves to death, a conflict the two sides cannot end themselves.

What's needed is a third party with no dog in this fight. Strangely enough, the US still has a kind of credibility and clout with both sides. Legal sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza still rests with the United Nations, which took over from the United Kingdom, which inherited it from the League of Nations (See Martin Indyk, Foreign Affairs).

But the Israelis would never trust the UN. The United States should pressure the UN to set up a trusteeship (run by the US) to administer the West Bank and Gaza for a period of five years.

Our troops should definitely not participate in the security-peacekeeping force. A third party, somebody really not involved, perhaps Brazilians, could bear the brunt of the forces, backed up by anti-terror Special Forces from Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Australia (and largely paid for by the US).

The main force need not be large; perhaps 10,000 troops might suffice, but it would provide a respite from the daily bloodshed to give a change for the warring parties to reach an orderly agreement.

Israeli and Palestinian civilians need sanctuary from the terror of both sides. A Trusteeship for Palestine, and southern Lebanon, is a framework that worked in Kosovo and East Timor. The Palestinians have already agreed. But the Israelis have to get on board.