How the European Union Failed to Keep the Peace in Gaza

As Hamas returns to attacking Israeli civilians with rockets and kite- and balloon-born explosives, Gerald Steinberg revisits the role played by the European Union Border Assistance Monitors (EUBAM), a peacekeeping force deployed to Gaza after Israel’s 2005 withdrawal. Stationed at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Strip, EUBAM’s mission was to supervise the Palestinian Authority (PA) border police and ensure that weapons and other contraband, as well as criminals and terrorists, didn’t enter Gaza. The force’s poor performance hasn’t stopped the Europeans from urging Jerusalem to make further territorial concessions:

From the beginning, this EU monitoring presence . . . demonstrated the chasm between high-minded talk and the reality of conflict and terrorism on the ground. . . . Weapons smuggling [into Gaza] continued, and on December 30, 2005, a few weeks after their initial deployment, EUBAM monitors fled Rafah to the safety of an Israeli military base when Palestinian police officers stormed the crossing, in what was described for media and diplomatic consumption as a “protest demonstration.”

Three months later, the monitors fled once again following a wave of foreigner kidnappings in Gaza. The EUBAM team returned, but with no actual monitoring, and when attacks from Gaza . . . escalated, the EU officials were bystanders.

The force hasn’t operated at all since the Hamas takeover of the Strip in 2007, although the crossing remains open. Steinberg adds:

In European political folklore, EUBAM’s failure, like everything else connected to the Palestinians, is blamed on Israel. . . . In reality, while the EU wanted credit for having an active role, they did not want the accompanying responsibility. The monitors moved to a hotel in Ashkelon and then an office in Ramat Gan, where, in theory, they remain on standby, thirteen years later, “maintaining readiness to redeploy to the Rafah Crossing Point once the political and security situation allows within short notice.”

This history is part of the EU’s legacy and should be recalled whenever officials such as Josep Borrell, vice-president in charge of foreign policy, lecture Israelis on how to make peace and help the people of Gaza.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Gaza withdrawal, Hamas, Peacekeepers

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy