What is a Visionist?

"A visionist is an artist, a creator or an individual that sees beyond what is visible to the eyes and brains of human beings. Visionists are thinkers, they are the recognisable brains in soociety, but most times they are seen as absurd, "nerds" and misfits – they just don't fit into the societies. They are people with great dreams and minds."

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

OOTB Idea # 1 - A Solution for Gaza

BBC Map - Do you remember the movie "The Graduate," when a friend of the family leans over to young Dustin Hoffman and says, "I am going to say one word to you--plastics"? Well, I am going to say one word to you: trusteeship. Trusteeship for Gaza. I have been studying revival of the UN Trusteeship Council, where I was the Deputy US Representative during the Carter administration for three years, for quite some time and think it is the answer. I and am talking to several people about this idea, but want to throw it up there now for the sake of discussion. This is how it would work:
1. Israel defeats Hamas decisively, but without destroying it. Humble it, disarm it, and, when Hamas cries "uncle," force it into a purely political role. Hamas cannot be allowed the capacity to return to using terror against Israel. But Israel does not want to occupy Gaza again. The above is perfectly possible even with an EU or French-Egyptian inspired ceasefire. Israel is not going to allow the conditions before its incursion into Gaza to prevail, period.

2. Invite the UN Security Council to place Gaza under the now mothballed Trusteeship Council and a UN peacekeeping force, made up primarily of troops from Arab and Muslim states but with strict orders to not allow the rearming of Gaza.

3 Israel turns Gaza over to the UN as the administering authority. Gaza is labeled a "strategic trust," under the oversight of the Security Council, not the General Assembly.

4. Trusteeship will last one year, with only a six month possible extension.

5. An intense negotiating process with the Palestinian Authority begins immediately. All issues must be resolved between Israel and the PA without the interference of Hamas or the Gazans.

6. Meanwhile the TC takes charge of the economic recovery and development of Gaza with a large fund collected from UN member states under Tony Blair's direction. This role will continue for all of Palestine after independence but only working through the PA.

7. Upon agreement of a peace between PA and Israel, a referendum is held in Gaza to determine if the population wishes to become part of an independent Palestine. Assuming they will, Gaza's trusteeship status is ended and it is joined with the West Bank under the PA. Hamas may compete as a legal opposition political party, but only if it agrees to the peace settlement once the Gazans make their decision.

The above is possible because formally, Palestine never achieved independence, and sovereignty remains with the UN. However, the PA, under Oslo, does exercise partial sovereignty over the West Bank, so it cannot be made part of the Trusteeship. (Sovereignty is a tricky legal question under international law,but is subject to decisions by the UN itself. It is a sensitive political issue, and politically you cannot take sovereignty away once it is given.)

The above creates incentives for all parties. Hamas can chose to continue to come under Israeli occupation or under UN trusteeship and oversight. The AP has fewer impediments to negotiating a peace accord and the incentive of being handed Gaza back to its authority as an independent state following a legitimate referendum, which delegitimises Hamas rule. Hamas wins its ability to continue to exist as a political opposition party. All Palestinians are made an economic "offer they can't refuse."

There will be some resistance to this idea, since the TC represented colonialism to many UN members that are former colonies. The TC was formally suspended since it had completed its mission of bringing all designated trust territories to self-government of independence. But the UN Charter allows for further trust territories to be formed. As one of the principal organs of the UN, the TC--which has its own chamber at the UN in New York--has a special superior status to any ad hoc body that would be formed instead and it has procedures for how the administration of the trust territory is conducted and for what purposes.

A successful completion of the process of independence of Palestine and ME peace under TC tutelage would lay the foundations for the TC to be transformed into a new body, as has been suggested in the past, responsible for handling failed or failing states. But that, unlike the question of Gaza, would require reform of the UN Charter. It would be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The whole process would create a mechanism for dealing with most of the countries which pose a threat to peace and security and are a haven for terrorists. This is actually OOTB Suggestion #2, but I want it to be laid out clearly as linked to Suggestion# 1. Is this idea totally new? Not at all. The idea of restoring the TC to some new status has been around since the early 1990s following completion of its initial mission--a great accomplishment for the UN system--of getting all of the Trust Territories that came under its jurisdiction to self-government or independence. But its operations were suspended, not ceased. Morton Halperin, former Clinton senior official at the National Security Council, proposed transforming the TC into an organ for dealing with failed and failing states. More recently, , former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, writing in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2003, suggested "Trusteeship for Palestine." I have written to both Halperin and Indyk about their individual ideas.

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