Peace and security are not the same thing

Tzipi Livni visits the site of a rocket attack in Beersheva (picture Avi Ohayon)

One of the first things I wrote on this website is an article called “Peace and security are not the same thing”. Apologies for my lack of imagination, but I think that lack of imagination is widely shared. The crisis in Gaza is living proof of that.

The invasion by the Israeli military is intended to eliminate the threat of rockets that have been fired at Sderot and other places just over the border in the south of Israel. But the fundamental problem is not that there have been missiles fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians: it is that there are people in Gaza who want to fire those missiles. Driving a column of Merkava tanks down the main street in Gaza City will not deal with that second one, more likely it will make it worse.

The Israeli strategy is aimed at delivering security, but what they really need is peace.

So what are the steps towards peace? The Israelis need to be sure that there will be no more rocket attacks from Gaza, which means a comprehensive arms embargo for the enclave. The Palestinians need to be able to develop their own self-government, which means that someone other than the Israelis needs to take on responsibility for enforcing that arms embargo. That way, the two sides can start to deal with each other more nearly on the basis of equality.

And who should take on the task of policing the border? It is hard to think of a more noble use of armed force in the world right now, providing security for the Israelis and justice for the Palestinians. Will the Europeans have the imagination and the courage to step forward?

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Here are some of the most interesting things I have read on Gaza lately:

David Aaronovitch: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/
columnists/david_aaronovitch/article5454670.ece

Daniel Finkelstein: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/
columnists/daniel_finkelstein/article5461544.ece

Will Self: http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46239,opinion,will-self-dont-laud-jewish-defiance-then-ignore-israeli-abuse

Jonathan Freedland: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/03/israel-attack-hamas-gaza-peace

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