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In 2014, "Abbas said he would accept a gradual Israeli withdrawal over three years, with NATO replacing the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank" (source). I would like to know if this statement was purely hypothetical, or had any practical feasibility. In particular: did NATO countries agreed to send troops to guard a future Palestinian state? Or did Abu Mazen just made a baseless commitment in the name of others?

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    IDK what the situation was like in 2014, but recently Turkey has offered something like that. And they are in NATO. It's probably something like that that might have been mentioned back then too. Of course, that's a rather generous/broad way of presenting the affair as a NATO offer. Dec 26, 2023 at 4:48
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    I'm pretty sure no NATO nation is willing to step in such a hornet's nest, but good question.
    – Rekesoft
    Dec 28, 2023 at 11:34
  • Sending forces to secure the collaborationst Ramallah Palestinian Authority is the opposite of securing a Palestinian state. It is similar to sending forces to secure South Vietnam.
    – einpoklum
    Jan 7 at 21:12
  • Calling it a "a baseless commitment in the name of others" is biased language and seems politically- or racially-motivated name-calling. It's entirely reasonable to request a peacekeeping force without having yet been given a firm commitment by anyone to join the force - how do you think such forces are established?
    – Stuart F
    Jan 8 at 12:19
  • "how do you think such forces are established?" you could ask them first if they will be willing to consider it at all. Jan 8 at 12:23

2 Answers 2

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I think you misread that statement. Like Abbas is hardly in a position to outright tell the IDF to retreat, nor can he command NATO to intervene on his behalf, especially when the U.S. have a dominant position within NATO and historically shown strong support for Israel.

So I guess it is the other way around. Like it would be an understatement that the IDF has a strong Israel bias and that it would be weird for a future Palestinian state to be guarded by the army of Israel. Though at the same time Israel has a vested interest in it's own security and apparently the Palestinian state is either not able or allowed (or both) to have a military and police capable of securing itself, also with regards to it's own extremist/terrorist groups.

So I'd read that more as an offer for a compromise than a concrete proposal that is already negotiated with NATO or even initiated by NATO. Like Abbas wants the IDF to leave, but would accept the presence of a NATO peacekeeping mission. So as a result he would get a slightly more neutral safe guarding force that feels less like an occupation, while the choice of NATO is probably deliberate, as Israel is probably way more likely to accept an ally to do that business than idk one of the various neighboring states that have at times vowed to erase them from the map.

But I guess whether NATO would take up such a job would crucially depend on Isreal's reaction to that offer. So before Israel approves of that NATO is not going to do anything of that kind.

And according to that article Israel didn't do it anyway but instead offered a temporal presence of the IDF for 10 years, which Abbas wasn't too happy about. So the statement is probably best explained with this part of the article:

“Those who are proposing 10 to 15 years (before a withdrawal) do not want to withdraw at all,” Abbas said in his televised speech. “We have no problem with a third party [taking over] during and after Israel’s withdrawal to reassure the Israelis, and us too, that things will go normally.”

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It's common for the international community to organize peacekeeping missions. It usually falls within the remit of the UN to decide and implement missions like this, especially in situations where it's crucial to preserve neutrality. NATO could be perceived as biased towards the US and therefore pro-Israel (this could cause tensions with Russia and/or China these days, but the situation was different 10 years ago).

Generally the UN has supervised multiple peacekeeping missions with the voluntary support of many countries. The closest example of such a peacekeeping mission is the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, in which multiple countries contributed soldiers and resources to try and preserve peace while allowing the government of Lebanon to regain sovereignty within the borders of the territory.

A peacekeeping mission requires the parties in presence to be at least ready to stop hostilities and to leave military control to the UN. To my knowledge no plan of this nature was discussed so far for the West Bank, probably because Israel, which controls the area de facto, isn't willing to accept it. It's important to remember that the West Bank is occupied and colonized by Israel in contravention with international law.

Therefore it is likely that the obstacle to this plan is not the lack of will from the international community, it's rather Israel which doesn't want to give up control of the West Bank.

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  • (a) The UNIFIL did a very bad job in enforcing UNSC decision 1701 and securing the sovereignty of Lebanon. Currently, Lebanon is occupied by an Iran-backed militia, which cares more about harming Israel than about helping Lebanon. This may explain why Israel refuses to give control to yet another useless UN force near its border. (b) A NATO force would potentially be more helpful, and this is exactly why Abu Mazen made this suggestion. But if no NATO country agrees, there is no point in discussing it. This is why I asked. Jan 8 at 11:46
  • @ErelSegal-Halevi it's very likely that NATO countries would agree if asked, since they have often accepted to participate to other peacekeeping missions in the past. But the question won't be asked as long as Israel is in power in the West Bank and doesn't want it, of course. Your question is backwards: it's Israel which blocks other countries from even discussing this kind of scenario, not the lack of will of other countries.
    – Erwan
    Jan 8 at 12:03
  • What successful peace-keeping missions were done by NATO recently? Jan 8 at 12:13
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    @ErelSegal-Halevi NATO were involved in anti-piracy operations off Somalia until 2016 (Operation Ocean Shield), and there are currently NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo. You could have easily found this info on Wikipedia.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 8 at 12:22
  • @ErelSegal-Halevi NATO countries like Italy, France, Germany or Spain contributed troops to the UN mission in Lebanon, so they would probably also agree to participate to a mission in the West Bank if it was an option.
    – Erwan
    Jan 8 at 14:22

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