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THE PEACE KEEPING | by obbino
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THE PEACE KEEPING

It seems that there is a general consensus about the opportunity and the necessity for Italy to participate in the International Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon.

It is beyond a shadow of doubt that in order to put a stop to the spiral of violence that makes the Middle East ever more bloody and that is extending dangerously to the rest of the world, it is more necessary than ever before to have an active commitment of the international community under the leadership of the United Nations.

 

However, the result of such a commitment depends decidedly on the conditions in which it is put into practice and carried out. More than ever before it seems necessary to draw the attention of the Government, of Parliament and of all citizens to certain points that are very delicate.

An initial necessary consideration is that the war in Lebanon has eclipsed the problem of Palestine. It does not seem acceptable, in particular, that the international community is completely ignoring the fact that Ministers and Parliamentarians of a country that should be sovereign have been kidnapped (the vice-premier, Nasser-as-Shaer, since 19 August), imprisoned and in at least one case tortured.

 

In no other country could a similar foreign action be tolerated. Why does no one react in the case of Israel? The silence of the Italian Government is unacceptable.

When considering the composition of an International Peacekeeping Force, it must correspond to certain fundamental and elementary conditions. It is evident that military forces of a country that is not rigorously equidistant from the two sides in the conflict cannot be part of it.

 

Last year, Italy agreed to commit to an Agreement of Military Cooperation with Israel, that is a substantial obstacle in a way that has no remedy to our being equidistant.

 

International Law would impose, as a minimum, the preventive suspension of this Agreement whose detailed terms must absolutely be made known to public opinion.

It’s relevant to bring to mind as well that Israel has participated in NATO military manoeuvres in Sardinia, in which without a doubt, Israeli pilots and other military personnel were training and who were subsequently engaged in the war in Lebanon.

This happening gives rise to a further condition: it is necessary to have an absolute guarantee that the command of this Peacekeeping Force remains strictly under the command of the United Nations and cannot ever be transferred to NATO.

 

Furthermore, it is absolutely necessary, that the costs of the mission should not be carried by the Italian State and in particular that it does not bring about a reduction in spending on social issues but that it is contained within the budget of the Ministry of Defence for Italian military missions abroad.

 

These seem to be fundamental and inevitable conditions for the participation of our country.

However other reserves remain. It seems unique and anything but neutral the fact that the International Peacekeeping Force should be deployed in the territory of one of the two countries in the conflict, namely the one that was attacked and not on the border.

Thus it must be clear that as long as this force operates in Lebanese territory, it must be subject to Lebanese sovereignty and that it cannot in any way be tasked with disarming nor in disbanding Hezbollah.

However, these operating conditions will expose the troops making up the Force to act if there are provocations that can be real or claimed. How can they oppose the force of the Israeli army that is still present on Lebanese soil?

We should have no illusions about the rules of engagement that will be decided by the organism that is leading the mission and not by our government. We consider that it is right to ask that the military contingent is accompanied by a relevant number of unarmed volunteers.

Finally it must be extremely clear that this Peacekeeping Force can never in any way be involved in a resumption or extension of the conflict.

Likewise what must be excluded is its use to protect Italian companies that will throw themselves into the lucrative business of reconstructing Lebanon.

It is necessary to banish with great clarity any illusion that military peacekeeping, even in the best conditions, can resolve the conflict in the Middle East, above all resolve the fundamental question of Palestine.

Who will put a stop to the destruction of houses, of cultivation, and of the infrastructure of the Palestinians and of the targeted homicides (in open violation of any judicial norms)?

Thus we ask that before sending an Italian contingent, our Government forcibly insists at an international level on the inescapable need to deploy an International Peacekeeping Force in Gaza and in Cisgiordania {West Bank}, to guarantee the security of Israel and as a condition for the creation of a Palestinian State.

   

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Taken on August 29, 2006