In order for the devastating conflict between Israel and Hamas to end it is imperative that the international community express very strongly that it is determined that this conflict should cease. To demonstrate that determination I consider that it is necessary for governments to support a number of actions through the United Nations.
First governments need to promote immediate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority about a cease fire. The Palestinian negotiating team must include significant leaders of Hamas otherwise no deal can be struck that will have sufficient credibility in Gaza to make it acceptable and enforceable. Ther is supposedly unity between Fatah and Hamas. Let this be the opportunity to demonstrate that this unity is real and that from now on Isreal must be prepared to negotiate with representatives of Hamas. Civil strife can only come to an end with negotiations between governments and those they have called 'terrorists'.
Second, the Canadian government in particular should promote at the United Nations the sending of a force of Peace Keepers to the Gaza enclave. This is exactly the kind of situation that caused former Prime Minister Lester Pearson to advocate for the use of such forces. The situation he was responding to was just along the coast at the Suez Canal. The presence of the Peace Keepers would be to achieve various objectives. First, their presence would be a very strong indication that the international community is determined that this conflict should end and that the context be made suitable for negotiations towards a permanent Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement, Second, the Peace Keepers would be there to prevent and monitor any use of Israeli force against the Gaza enclave. This would be achieved because, to mount any attack, Israeli forces would have to deliberately disobey orders of United Nations Peace Keeper commanders to cease and desist or otherwise put UN personnel in mortal danger. Third the peace keepers would be responsible for finding and destroying any rocket launchers and underground tunnels used by Hamas or other Gazan armed groups. This would be achieved through an agreement reached with Hamas and other armed groups in reciprocity for preventing Israeli attacks and, also, by Peace Keeper intelligence gathering and searching. Fourth Peace Keepers would be responsible for monitoring normal access of goods, services and personal travel in and out of Gaza by land, sea and [eventually] air .
The international community, through the United Nations, should promote and endorse two other actions. The first is an arms embargo on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including Hamas. This embargo should remain in force until all the significant divisive issues on either side have been formulated, resolved and singed off in a comprehensive settlement.This embargo would fall heaviest on Israel . Nevertheless, it would still remain a major arms manufacturer and supplier. Such an embargo would, however, reassure the Arab and Muslim world that Israel could not seek a permanent solution depending upon its disproportionate military might.On the other hand all of Israel's international treaties of military assistance if externally attacked, would still remain in place.
Finally the international community should promote and endorse through the United Nations, the setting up of an international commission to inquire,evaluate and report on claims and possibilities of war crimes committed by any of the armed participants in the conflict. Assertions of 'Crimes Against Humanity' mentioned in the report should result in the individuals involved being subject to international arrest, and trial at the International Court of Justice. All assets of any organizations involved should be internationally frozen.
I hope that such a grouping of actions would send to all the parties concerned the strength of message needed to make it unequivocally clear that this conflict must stop and somemthing genuinely sustainable and hopeful be developed in its place.
[life long peace activist and Coordinator of the Oakville/Mississauga KAIROS Group]