Grasping the nettle

Blanche, Ed
October 2003
Middle East;Oct2003, Issue 338, p20
There is mounting pressure to send an international peacekeeping force to help deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With the ceasefire between Palestinians and Israelis lurching towards collapse and another convulsion of all-out violence, the idea of an international military force to keep the two sides apart, and even impose a settlement, is being mooted. Palestinians have long sought military intervention by outside powers in the belief that internationalizing the conflict will hasten its end. One way would be to employ the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which has reinvented itself following the end of the Cold War from a bulwark against the Soviet Union to a rapid-response organization ready to move outside confines of Europe. The deployment in Afghanistan is the first time in NATO's 54-year history the alliance has sent its forces outside Europe. A NATO role in Iraq, unthinkable only a few months ago because of European opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq, is becoming increasingly credible as of October 2003. NATO now commands the 5,000-strong peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, a force that may triple in size in the months ahead, and with the beleaguered Americans frantically trying to build a multinational force in Iraq to quell resistance to their occupation, the option of a NATO-led peacekeeping force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is gaining momentum. NATO, keen to involve itself in the Middle East, has gone so far as to take Israeli and Palestinian security officials to Kosovo, Serbia to show them how the force there operates.


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