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Will We Be Able to Bring Peace to Gaza this Time?

By Walid Phares Terror Expert/ FOX News Contributor

It may be too early to discuss both a comprehensive solution for the future of a Palestinian state and to anticipate an end to the global War on Terror at the same time but here goes. In any discussion of peace in the Middle East it's important to remember the intentions of the Iranian and Syrian regimes and their proxy, Hezbollah when we think about saving the civilian population of Gaza from war, shielding the Israeli populations from rockets and avoiding an escalation of violence that could engulf the entire region. The Iranian and Syrian regimes and their ally Hezbollah will always oppose the peace process and try to sink it.

In this case, the United Nations has a duty to seize Gaza and manage its peace until an internationally recognized and responsible Palestinian state rises again in that province.
So is there a plan to bring peace to the southern shores of the Levant? In an interview with Al Jazeera, Israeli President Shimon Peres said his country will stop military operations when the strikes by Hamas and its allies will come to an end. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his Palestinian Authority (PA) is ready to assume responsibility for the sake of his people. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah said their governments are ready to solve the crisis in Gaza if the PA is part of it. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations all affirmed that everything has to be done to end the war in Gaza. Excellent.

If all the players listed above are ready to stop the violence, end the war and save Palestinian and Israeli civilians from bloodshed, then the plan seems to be clear: demilitarization and internationalization of Gaza.

Establishing a fully-fledged U.N. sponsored and managed security system in the enclave has precedents across the planet: Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and to some extent in Lebanon and possibly in the near future, Darfur.

When an area slips under the control of a militia which is not bound by a peace treaty, or operating under international law, and when a population comes under fire from any party because of the military actions of such a militia, and until a recognizable and recognized sovereign state becomes responsible for such an enclave, the U.N. Security Council must step in and apply Chapter 7 of the charter, that is to bring peace to civilian populations.

In this case, the United Nations has a duty to seize Gaza and manage its peace until an internationally recognized and responsible Palestinian state rises again in that province. How will this be accomplished?

1. The Security Council meets and declares Gaza as an area under U.N. emergency management and vote, under Chapter 7, for a strong multinational force (MNF) to enter the enclave in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 2. The MNF should not include forces whose governments are in a state of war with Israel or with the Palestinian Authority and must have diplomatic relations with both, for the purpose of peace building. 3. The MNF proceeds with the disarming of Hamas and all other militias first. Gaza should be demilitarized fully. Israeli forces would withdraw to the lines of demarcation fully. 4. The MNF would reestablish police centers and remit them to a reformed and transparent PA. 5. The MNF would protect the civilian population, in coordination with the PA units. 6. The Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference would provide all needed expenses for the MNF and the PA security forces. A consortium of oil producing governments from the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) would grant Gaza's U.N. sponsored local administration $10 billion or so to end the economic crisis, fund new schools, hospitals and basic infrastructure. 7. The Arab League would commit to grant Gaza residents visas to visit all Arab countries and work permits if they wish so. 8. Israel commits to allow Gaza workers to travel to the West Bank and vice versa. 9. The final security and economic arrangements would be integrated in the final status negotiations between the PA and Israel. 10. The PA and Israel would resume their direct negotiations for a peace settlement.

This 10-point plan can, first and foremost, bring peace and security to the Palestinian population in Gaza, the Israeli civilians in the surrounding areas, and also engage the responsibility of the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and the OIC in peace making.

Evidently, such a plan will never see the light of day as long as any party to the conflict thinks they can only count on a military solution -- and particularly as long as Hamas is instructed by Tehran and Damascus to sink the peace process. Sadly as long as democracy is not on the rise in Iran and Syria we cannot predict the end of the War on Terror.

Dr. Walid Phares is the coordinator of the Trans-Atlantic Legislative Group on Counter-Terrorism based in Washington D.C. and Brussels and the director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies as well as a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy.

Walid Phares, Ph.D., joined Fox News in January 2007 and serves as Middle East and terrorism expert. He is author of "Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West" (Palgrave Macmillan Trade 2006).