It was only a matter of time for the real reason behind the “right to protect” (R2P) principle the UN has adopted to become apparent.
The Arab League (AL) said on Sunday it would ask the United Nations to consider imposing a no-fly zone over the Gaza Strip to protect the civilians against Israeli air strikes.
In a statement issued after an emergency meeting of the pan- Arab organization at the permanent delegates’ level in its Cairo headquarter, the AL said it would ask the United Nation Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the Israeli aggression over Gaza to lift the siege and impose a no-fly zone against the Israeli military to protect civilians.
The statement rejected the double standard policies towards the Palestinian case, urging the UN Security Council and the Quartet committee to bear all responsibilities for halting the subsequent massacres and provide an international protection for the unarmed citizens.
Now, this shouldn’t have a chance since it takes a vote of the Security Council to pass something like this and the US, with a permanent seat, has the right to veto any resolution calling for such a measure.
And a few years ago I’d have had no worries about there even being a ghost of a chance of such a measure being agreed too by the US. I have no such assurance now with this administration. And don’t forget, they got the cooperation of the Security Council recently for the imposition of the Libyan NFZ, so they’ll be asked for cooperation on this – it’s the trap that may have been set from the outset.
Of course, unaddressed by the AL is the provocation for the latest round of air attacks from Israel by the terrorist group Hamas:
Violence in Gaza started when Hamas, which holds sway there, fired a rocket at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding a 16- year-old student. Hamas later said it did not know the bus was carrying students.
Hamas more than “holds sway there” – Hamas “governs” there. What it continues to do is execute acts of war against Israel and then whines when Israel reacts. What the AL is doing is attempting to get the US to level the playing field and create better opportunities for Hamas to continue firing rockets into Israel. And, of course, brave Hamas always ensures it does its provocations from areas with high densities of civilians. And Hamas could give a rip whether there were students on the bus. Read the description again – it was a freakin’ school bus. What else did they expect to be on it?
Note too that the AL uses precisely the argument that I and others who wrote about the application of R2P said would happen. The citing of a “double-standard” (you’ll do Libya but not Gaza?). It’s nonsense on a stick, of course, because supposedly R2P is there to protect civilians from their own government, not another government retaliating against deadly attacks by their own government.
This again illustrates the danger of such “principles” as the UN’s R2P. It is now being considered a tool by the weak but tyrannical in an effort to downgrade the defensive abilities of Israel to protect itself.
I say give them the go-ahead and let the AL enforce the NFZ. It will be good for fighter jet sales as the IAF will scatter pieces and parts of the various AL air forces over the Gaza strip as a result.
Elliot Abrams asks that question given some news out of the Middle East that has gone virtually undiscussed. You remember the recent announcement that indirect or “proximity” talks were supposed to begin soon between Israel and Palestine. Abrams says, “maybe not”. And the reason is not good news:
Two stories this week in Haaretz, the Israeli daily, make this clear. The first story recounts an interview Abbas gave Israeli TV, and notes that “Abbas said he hopes to get Arab League approval for indirect talks on May 1.” The second story recycles an item from the newspaper Al-Watan in Damascus, and begins this way: “The Arab League is expected to reject the Obama administration’s proposal to begin indirect Middle East peace negotiations in the coming weeks, sources from the 22-state body told Syria’s Al-Watan daily on Tuesday. The League’s Monitoring Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative is scheduled to meet on Saturday to vote on the proposal, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to accept any offer for peace talks that does not meet the panel’s approval.”
Of course that changes the game pretty dramatically. If Abbas has ceded the power of the Palestinians to speak for themselves to the Arab League, it complicates any possible solution with Israel. In fact, as Abrams notes, it is a return “to the days when the Palestinians were under the control of Arab states rather than masters of their own future”. And we all know how well that’s turned out.
Second, putting the Arab League in charge magnifies the influence of bad actors. To get negotiations going, the Obama administration now has to convince not only Abbas, but Bashar al Assad. Perhaps this helps explain why George Mitchell has visited Damascus and why the administration persists in “outreach” to Syria despite its continuing evil conduct (most recently, reports of the shipment of Scud missiles to Hezbollah). Having committed itself to the “peace process,” the administration simply cannot afford to treat Syria as it deserves; Syria has too much clout now.
So now, as Abrams notes, since such countries as Syria have a say in what the Palestinians do, we have to tread more lightly than perhaps we could have prior to this little announcement. That reigns in, for instance, putting the amount of diplomatic pressure that the report of SCUDs to Hezbollah deserves.
More than anything, though, it introduces a third party to the talks which has no vested interest in seeing the peace process work. Other than Egypt and Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel, the other 20 nations have demonstrated little care or desire for peace with Israel. If you thought the peace process was tough before, this little wrinkle makes it almost impossible now.