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Why Does Israel Reject the Blair/Annan Peacekeepers?

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Yesterday Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a proposal by European allies to install a new, militant UN peacekeeping force on the Lebanon-Israeli border.

The new force, proposed by Tony Blair and Kofi Annan, would have an aggressive mandate and replace the largely ineffective UN monitors, which have been based in southern Lebanon since 1978.

The Israelis do not trust the UN, and they are probably right. But a new, forceful Trusteeship -- that will police and disarm the terrorists, under UN auspices, run by the United States, -- could quell the fighting and end the horrific civilian casualties.

The Israeli demand that the Lebanese government or Hamas or Hezbollah police and disarm the terrorists is politically and practically impossible. It did not happen in the past and it will not happen in the future.

This is a poisonous stalemate that the two sides cannot end themselves.

But there is a way out. Amazingly, the US still has a kind of credibility and clout with both sides.

A Trusteeship run by the US, under United Nations sovereignty, and policed by foreign troops -
Russians, French, Indians - is the only way the Arab world will believe that Israel will give up the occupied territories.

An aggressive Trusteeship, which will disarm militias and terrorists, worked in Kosovo and East Timor. It should be given a chance to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has led to the deaths of 800 Israelis and 2,500 Palestinians.

Israel must come to the realization that its widespread use of force is counter-productive and only producing more terrorists. Terror against Arab civilians will not make Israel more secure.

By turning his back on the killing of hundreds of civilians, President Bush is contributing to the irresponsible mayhem. Bush cannot say this is not my problem. The US gives Israel more than $15 billion per year in support, largely for military weapons. President Bush should seize the moment to force a permanent Trusteeship solution - a United States construct under a UN mandate.

Just as Iran must bare responsibility for the weapons and support that it supplies to Hezbollah, so too should the United States accept moral responsibility for the damage caused by the weapons it supplies to Israel.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, has called for urgent and substantive US - International intervention. It is incumbent on the US to act now or risk that the year 2006 could soon bare the same historic resonance as 1967 and 1972, according to the liberal Jewish group. Dwelling on the questions of blame and who struck first is a dangerous distraction to the lives that are being lost in this conflict.

There must be an end to this madness. Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas cannot work it out themselves without worldwide, outside intervention. It will happen sooner or later.

Sooner would be better.



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