Saturday, December 09, 2006

Internationalizing Gaza

Ehud Olmert says he is willing to consider an international force in the Gaza Strip:
"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday he was ready to discuss Italy's proposal to send international troops to Gaza when he travels to Rome next week for a meeting with the Italian premier.

"Italy has floated the idea several times since this summer, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has long called for an international presence in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel, however, has opposed the idea.

"Olmert said in an interview ro Italy's RAI Tg1 television news that he is on friendly terms with Premier Romano Prodi and would listen to what he has to say.

"'If Italy is prepared that its army will be engaged on a daily basis against terrorist actions of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations operating in Gaza, this is very interesting news. I want to learn it,' Olmert said, speaking in English."

Historically, Israeli leaders have resisted international forces becoming involved in the Palestinian territories, preferring to trust only themselves with their nation's defense. However, Olmert has a problem in that he wants to withdraw from parts of the West Bank, but first needs to demonstrate that withdrawal is not simply a prelude to their being used to stage attacks on Israel The IDF has failed to stop the Qassam fire from Gaza, and this may be leading him to seek alternatives.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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