‘Demilitarising Gaza: Principles, Pitfalls and Implementation’

By Oren Kessler

In line with seeking to further the debate around practical steps towards a two-state solution, The Henry Jackson Society’s latest report addresses the fallout from the recent fighting in Gaza. The British Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition have been unequivocal alongside our international allies in making plain that Hamas is responsible for the last escalation in violence. HJS’ latest report Demilitarising Gaza: Principles, Pitfalls and Implementation examines the requirement to deny Hamas and other terror groups the ability to act as spoilers in the search for peace and stability.

Key findings include:

  • A wide diplomatic consensus exists for the demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip. Every major document of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process envisions a disarmed Palestinian polity, with police or security forces but without a military.
  • To prevent further smuggling to Gaza, Palestinian Authority forces must be deployed at the Rafah crossing to Egypt – as called for in the ceasefire agreement reached on 26 August 2014 – and any other Gaza crossings opened in a future truce deal. International contingents, such as the EU force formerly deployed to Rafah, should be reintroduced and bolstered by those from moderate Arab states. Egypt is a key partner in thwarting arms smuggling.
  • Removing Gaza’s existing terror infrastructure could be achieved by international inspectors, potentially under a UN Security Council mandate, working along the same model as that which disarmed Syria of much of its chemical arsenal. Unlike the UN resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, a resolution for Gaza would empower inspectors to both halt arms smuggling and dispose of existing rocket caches and launchers.
  • Disarmament could be coupled to a reconstruction program backed and funded by the Arab League. Hamas would thereby be forced into a choice of either opposing Gaza’s development or acceding to it in exchange for incentives, such as the construction of an airfield or seaport, or a significant broadening of freedom of movement.
  • While disarmament must remain the long-term objective for Gaza, preventing Hamas’s remilitarisation is an appropriate short- and medium-term goal. Either objective must be framed to Palestinians not as a concession to Israel, but rather a necessary step – endorsed by the international community – towards self-determination and, ultimately, regional peace and stability.

Demilitarising Gaza: Principles, Pitfalls and Implementation is available to download here


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