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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Sep 20th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Analysis arrow Exclusive: Phares Plan Calls for Gaza Demilitarization
Exclusive: Phares Plan Calls for Gaza Demilitarization PDF Print E-mail
Written by W. Thomas Smith, Jr.   
Saturday, 17 January 2009

W. Thomas Smith, Jr.
W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

Dr. Walid Phares, director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, recently proposed to the United Nations a 10-point plan for Gaza – essentially a new UN Security Council resolution – aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict through demilitarization. The Phares Plan calls for a multinational force-deployment to Gaza, and a disarming of all militias, which, if administered properly, would de-fang Hamas. The deployment and disarmament would lead to a complete withdrawal of Israeli Defense Forces followed by significant financial aid to the war-torn enclave.
 
The plan is ambitious to say the least, and completely favors both Israel (victims of Hamas’s rocket attacks and suicide bombers) and the Palestinian people living in Gaza (basically lorded over and held hostage by Hamas). 
 
If nothing else, any push to implement Phares’ Plan would expose the Jihadists for what they are: Groups like Sunni Hamas – and their Shia cousins, Hizballah – want to appear as simple Islamic faith-based political parties caring for their flocks. In reality they are armed terrorists who wage Jihad on Israel and the West, all the while crying victimization and calling for peace (the latter when they are being soundly whipped on the battlefield). But Phares’ plan, which truly would bring peace to Gaza, would demand Hamas relinquish its rockets and other offensive weapons: A demand Hamas would likely reject, kicking and screaming in their rejection.
 
Yesterday, I spoke with Phares – who now also serves as secretary general of the Trans Atlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism (a consortium composed of terrorism experts, as well as U.S. and European legislators all focusing on the challenges posed by international terrorism) – about his plan.

W. THOMAS SMITH JR.: You were among those who drafted the initial plan for UN Security Council Resolution 1559 regarding the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the disarming of militias, namely Hizballah, in 2004. Syria withdrew in 2005. There was a deployment of UN forces in 2006. But Hizballah was never disarmed. Why would you think the “Phares Plan” would work in Gaza? Would Hamas accept any mandate to disarm? 
DR. WALID PHARES: Yes, it’s true, UNSCR 1559 called for Syrian withdrawal and the disarming of militias. The resolution was clear and set the path for the liberation of Lebanon. Syria's troops pulled out and that was a significant victory. The non-disarming of Hizballah was due not to the perceived hollowness of the resolution, but it was a result of the inability of Lebanon's politicians – who supported the resolution – to call on the international community to help them in its application. 
In Gaza, you have a different situation. The UN Security Council has already issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire. It was rushed, particularly by the Arab bloc, acting under pressure from the media and because of public demonstrations. They should have addressed the roots of the crisis, not the roots of the conflict as a whole. The current crisis between Gaza and Israel is about missiles being fired at – and impacting inside – Israel. Thus it is about who in Gaza is firing these missiles. While Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority is engaged in a peace process, hence ending the military confrontation, Hamas – an ally of Iran and Syria – has rejected the process, and claims that employing missiles against Israel is a "resistance right." That's where the problem is. So a ceasefire and a return to the status quo, won't solve the problem. There needs to be a new dynamic wherein there are no missiles, thus no Israeli retaliation. But will Hamas accept to let go of its heavy weapons? I am not sure. What I am sure is that their allies in Damascus and Tehran won't permit them to do so.  
SMITH: In your proposal, you suggest the formation of a 30,000-man multinational force that would essentially move into and seize control of the entire enclave. How would that happen?        
PHARES: I am a realist. At this stage, I do not see this happening. As long as all parties feel they can still change the dynamics on the ground, they won't accept a UN military presence. But if the conflict goes deeper and wider, or if dramatic new developments, then one or both parties would begin accepting the idea. Already Hamas has said it would accept the idea of monitors. Israel may consider a Franco-Turkish force, but it wants to make sure Hamas isn’t resupplied via its borders with Egypt. My plan is more or less a final-stage platform not an early stage one. I am projecting a force that can not only effectively separate Israel and Gaza, but would manage Gaza's security and population until the reestablishment of a reformed Palestinian Authority.  
SMITH: What do you mean by reformed PA?  
PHARES: I mean that the UN-mandated forces would train and organize a Palestinian police force and place them gradually under an elected Palestinian Authority. Gaza's borders would be under the control of the multinational force with a growing Palestinian police presence to manage the ports of entry. There wouldn’t be any militia in the enclave. But there would be officially mandated Palestinian units and UN forces to protect the civilian population.   
SMITH: So Hamas would be disarmed – perhaps dismantled – according to this plan?  
PHARES: All militias would be dismantled. But Hamas as a political party, as a social structure and even as a government may remain if Palestinian voters give it seats in the parliament. This would be when Hamas demonstrates to the world that the Palestinian people really want this organization to represent them, and not under the threat of weapons and not through financial enticements. Fatah, Hamas, and other and new Palestinian parties can run for office in a new demilitarized Gaza and eventually form the cabinet. Demilitarization is about militias. But everything else should follow a democratic process under UN control. This is one option, and a continuous irrational war is the other option. I assume that all people who want to end this war should support the internationalization of Gaza. Those who will oppose it will show they aren't interested in the Gaza population’s future or well-being. To stop the miseries in Gaza, you need to have a sound government engaged in peace and security. No militias. No rockets. No blockade. No bombardments, etc. What you need is normality. And at this stage, normal life can only be brought about by the United Nations taking over in Gaza, fully.    
SMITH: Some might ask, is the Palestinian Authority with its current forces capable of ensuring security in Gaza’s interior and on its borders?  
PHARES: The PA police can of course manage security and related services in the strip if supported by the international community and under the protection of a multinational force. But there must be some form of international protection for the Palestinian police so that they won't be attacked by militia forces as was the case in June 2007. Hamas will have to accept becoming a political party like all other movements, and the PA will have to become a real government, not a political party. If that happens, the Gaza conflict can be resolved. Hamas refuses the international solution because it assumes that under the UN it will lose its power. In fact, under the UN we will all know what Hamas' popularity is really about. The fact that the Jihadi movement rejects the internationalization shows us that their projection is that the voters may not bring them back to government. That's the deep-end of the issue. It is about Hamas wanting to remain in power, and that power being a result its weapons not its popular support.   
SMITH: Would Israel accept such a plan: a reliance on the UN or a multinational force for security in Gaza?  
PHARES: What are the choices? If a multinational force under the UN is the only way to reconstruct a Palestinian governing-structure in Gaza, why would Israel oppose? The borders and the passages will be under international control and the area managed by UN and PA. Hence the peace process will be ready to move forward. Israeli officials have said their issue is with the militias’ intentions to employ rockets against Israelis in Israeli territory, not with the management inside Gaza.  
SMITH: In your proposal, you mention several countries by name as potential force contributors, but you excluded the U.S. and the UK.    
PHARES: Yes, I even excluded France and many – though not all – other Western countries. I did so because al Qaeda and Hizballah will continue to be present. And in the case of Bin Laden's cells, they will target America and its allies, and create incidents where there is a U.S. presence. That is not needed. American and NATO military forces can still help on the borders with Egypt and on the seas for interdiction, and they may remain in the area for strategic support. I named many countries with good capabilities such as NATO members Spain, Greece, Norway, and Turkey. Also Latin American countries such as Chile, Brazil and Argentina. Asian and African countries such as Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, India and Nigeria. In addition, countries such as Egypt and Jordan may also contribute. All participants need to have diplomatic relations with both the PA and Israel. As you see there are enough members of the UN who can deliver, but the force has to be strong and operating under Chapter 7, not as with the UNIFIL in south Lebanon, which is operating under Chapter 6. In the end, many formulas are possible. I have advanced the most idealistic equations. Reality could be otherwise.   
SMITH: Your proposal asks for a massive financial-aid package from the oil-producing countries in the region. You estimated 10-billion dollars from OPEC to Gaza. Why?  
PHARES: Because I noted that the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference were the most active in moving along toward an end to the conflict, and because they claim Gaza's crisis is an "Arab and Islamic" cause. So to follow the logic, if indeed it is advanced as such, then the money should follow from the same direction. We all know that if the Arab League and OIC oil producers want to, they can easily advance 10-billion dollars for a Gaza fund that would be – of course – dispensed and managed by a UN agency to rebuild Gaza and ensure that every family in the enclave would get a fair share. Ten-billion dollars would transform the one million residents into middle-class status within one year, if the will is there. After I advanced the proposal, Qatar announced that they are ready to pay a quarter of a billion. So, if all other producers do the same, you have your 10-billion or so package. Iran's "foreign aid" to Hamas goes for weapons and war. An OPEC-OIC super grant would end the war in Gaza.     
   
SMITH: But this means the Arab governments have to be unified, and they aren't. You have the pro-Iranian line such as Syria, Qatar and Sudan and the Egypt-led camp. How do we solve that?   
PHARES: This fact shows where the problem is. If the governments and regimes who claim internationally they are mobilizing for Gaza, are serious about it, they will move quickly along these demands: Put Gaza under UN management and fund a full recovery of the area. They will basically transform the miserable situation there into a success, and help the peace process move faster than ever, because the West Bank would rapidly want to match Gaza and Israel would rapidly have to meet the PA halfway to finalize the solution.  
SMITH: Do you think the Obama Administration will move along these logical lines?  
PHARES: I really don't know. It will depend on the advisors to be appointed and on the preexisting plans. If the forthcoming administration reverts back to the ideas of the 1990s, it will fail. If it moves forward into a new thinking, it may make a difference. In the end, the plan I propose has a main goal: it is to show that there are solutions. I have discussed this widely on Arab TV and radio so that the people of Gaza hear the ideas. They have the right to know that solutions are possible if the ideologies of endless wars are reversed. In a sense, I am using Obama's main slogan: "Yes we can." But will the Jihadists let go of their world-view for the people to live peacefully? We'll see.    
Visit W. Thomas Smith Jr. at uswriter.com.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 January 2009 )
 
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