To imagine what one would term a fair solution to this terrible human and strategic tragedy in the Middle East is audacious and ambitious task.
As a starting point it is important to take into account that Israel and Hamas are refusing a cease-fire because neither can claim a military victory.
Israel will not be in a position to claim military victory for some time because the Hamas firing of missiles has not been decisively incapacitated.
And Hamas cannot make any claim that its barrage of missiles resulting in death and destruction to its own people has produced success because none of its grievances against Israel have been satisfied.
And even the world community, however oriented toward defending Palestinian rights, cannot expect that Hamas be rewarded for its aggression. Moreover there are major forces in the Arab and international world that have taken the legal and political position that Hamas is not the legitimate representative of any group and that therefore making concessions today in addition to legitimatizing violence denigrates and undermines the Palestinian Authority.
And the next question is: What could entice Israel to cease its fire?
On this there is an answer because Israel views the ability of Hamas to throw rockets into Israel civilian cities and towns as a direct consequence of the fact that it is the only country where bombardment of civilians doesn't bring on the ire of the world community.
From its perspective any other country, or most importantly armed nongovernmental group, targeting bombs and rockets toward not their enemy's military, but innocent civilians, would bring widespread outrage.
In contrast a distinguished British commander Richard Kemp has pointed out: :The Israel Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare."
Israel, therefore, can get what it needs to stop the fighting, not through military neutralization of rocket-firing capability, which is a diplomatic impossibility especially since the Palestinian Authority itself does not want to legitimatize Hamas, but from the international community.
If instead of the UN trying to find equivocal language to consider that blame is shared by both sides, it simply condemned any further use of the indiscriminate targeting of civilians as a military weapon, Israel would get what it needs.
This throws back the burden and responsibility to the world community, perhaps the place where it belongs because in addition to the missile weapon what the Palestinians have most on their side is world opinion.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to neutralize this terrible Israel exception that the ends of stopping Israeli occupation justify whatever means are employed, including killing civilians. This underlying concept is in contradiction with the UN Charter itself written in the aftermath of World War II.
As a reminder, Article 1 of the the United Nations Charter states as its purpose taking effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.
Here is a suggestion of what Israel's top diplomat, or for that matter its president, can do in the next days
Go the UN, and instead of considering its Assembly and Security Council as adversaries, take to them the following proposition:
"To the representatives of our fellow nations that are grouped together under this esteemed international umbrella we propose to stop all fighting within 24 house of achieving a statement from the General Assembly that any and all use of weapons that are directed primarily at civilians will render the organization perpetrating such acts a terrorist organization and as such expose its leadership to criminal prosecution for war crimes pursuant to the rules of the International Court of Justice. The use of any weapon where the target is indiscriminate and not exclusively military especially where rockets are sent into the territory of a member State will be one example of a violation of this declaration. This declaration is essential to the role of this international organization in the pursuance and maintenance of peace in the world and the peaceful resolution of international conflicts, because too often nations that have espoused the defense of rights of peoples have neglected the rights of others and too often attacks that result in civilian deaths are not condemned as if in some fashion killing people can be justified."
If the United Nations accepted this proposition in one form or another the ceasefire would be put into effect in an instant.
The UN can thus play a decisive role in stopping the killing and the destruction, and only then can it take on whatever role it sees fit to assess as a matter of law and policy the grievances that one side can claim against the other.
Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l'EDHEC. Read Mark L. Cohen's Reports — More Here.
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