RAND Study Says International Peace-Enabling Force Could Enhance Security of Israel and a Palestinian State

For Release

January 31, 2006

If a Palestinian state is created, an international peace-enabling force led by the United States and ideally organized through NATO could play an important role in enhancing the security of both Israel and Palestine, a RAND Corporation study issued today concludes.

The report proposes that if both Israel and Palestine agree, an international peace-enabling force should be deployed along Palestine's borders with Egypt, Jordan and Israel after adoption of a peace agreement. The force would help monitor and patrol border crossings and checkpoints, supervise further moves to reinforce Israeli-Palestinian peace, and engage in other duties agreed to by all parties to help the new Palestinian state succeed and live side-by-side in peace with Israel.

The peace-enabling force should be composed of roughly 2,500 to 7,000 troops at a cost estimated to range from $550 million to $1.5 billion annually, the study says.

The RAND report, titled “Building a Successful Palestinian State: Security,” was written by RAND Senior Advisor Robert E. Hunter and RAND Political Scientist Seth G. Jones.

The report emphasizes that “rules of engagement” must be agreed on beforehand stating what the peace-enabling force would do to protect itself and what it would do in the event of a crisis. The force should have a mechanism for coordinating its activities with Israel and Palestine, the study says. It should be regarded as temporary, but should only depart if both Palestine and Israel – not just one of the nations – asks it to leave. The report says all parties should work toward turning over peacekeeping duties to Palestine and Israel as soon as feasible

“Security trumps all else,” the report says. “Without it, as demonstrated by several decades of experience in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, including every agreement between Israel and one or more of its neighbors since 1949, nothing else is likely to succeed in Israeli-Palestinian relations, however much good will there might be.”

The peace-enabling force could draw troops from America's NATO allies, as well as other nations following a formal UN Security Council mandate, the report recommends. The study says the United States is the only nation that enjoys enough trust from both Israel and the Palestinians to lead such a force.

Other issues addressed in the report (see bullets below) deal with: Israel's and Palestine's security; Palestinian security forces; the security implications of any Israeli settlements that remain within a future Palestinian state; security and jurisdiction issues in East Jerusalem; border crossings between Israel and Palestine; security of Palestine and Israel from incursion from abroad; and Middle East regional security.

The new security report is a companion volume to two RAND reports issued in April: “Building a Successful Palestinian State” and “The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State.” The earlier studies contained the most comprehensive recommendations ever made for the success of an independent Palestinian state, and identified ways to provide Palestinians with new access to jobs, food, water, education, health care, housing and public services.

All three studies are based on the premise that if a Palestinian state is created, it is profoundly important for Palestinians, Israelis and the rest of the world that the state succeeds.

“There have been many efforts over the years to reach a peace agreement that resolves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and creates a Palestinian state,” Hunter said. “RAND's three groundbreaking studies are valuable because they look at what happens after a Palestinian state is created, analyze key challenges and make practical recommendations to help the new state succeed.”

The new report also says:

  • After an independent Palestine is created, it and Israel will need to enter into arrangements that will help to ensure one another's security. These must include credible reassurances through confidence-building measures, dispute-resolution provisions, and concrete steps to eliminate terrorist and other violent attacks against Israel originating from or passing through Palestine.
  • A Palestinian state must be able to ensure security within its own borders once such borders are established, consistent also with Israel's security. This includes the Palestinian state's ability to promote public order and protect its citizens and others in its territory from violent attack and subversion, whether originating from inside or outside the state.
  • Palestine should agree not to constitute regular military forces, at least at the outset, although it should have border guards, police and other domestic security forces. An increasing range of security responsibilities should be devolved on the Palestinian government and its security forces over 5 to 10 years, depending on proven Palestinian competence and Israeli confidence. Whether Palestine should be permanently “demilitarized” is an issue to be considered in the future.
  • For maximum security, Israeli settlements would need to be withdrawn from Palestinian lands after the creation of a Palestinian state, except in areas contiguous to Israel that are incorporated into Israel through negotiations – for example through land swaps. Settlements remaining in the new Palestinian state would likely be the focus of continuing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The more that Palestinian territory in a new state is contiguous and has undisputed boundaries, the more security for all parties will be increased.
  • The status of Jerusalem remains an issue for the Palestinians and Israelis to decide in a peace agreement. The analysis shows that there is no security impediment to Jerusalem being the capital for both Israel and Palestine. There are a number of possible ways for jurisdiction and security responsibilities in East Jerusalem to be shared by the two sides. From a security perspective, there could be international aspects, especially in regard to the Temple Mount (known as the Haram al-Sharif to Muslims), with either mixed Israeli-Palestinian control or participation of outsiders.
  • Assuming the implementation of necessary security measures, Israeli-Palestinian borders established when a state is created should be permeable, with checkpoints and inspections managed by Israel and Palestine. If both sides agree, inspections could be assisted by the international peace-enabling force.
  • The territories of both Israel and a Palestinian state must be secured against incursion from abroad. In addition, arrangements regarding a Palestinian state must be seen as making a positive contribution to regional security. This goal requires the cooperation of other states and institutions.
  • Security for Israel and a Palestinian state will depend in part on what else is happening in the Middle East. The United States has taken on the primary responsibility for reshaping the region and for developing a long-term situation of stability. Others — including NATO, the European Union and the UN — must also play useful and supportive roles.

The new study does not take a position on the barrier being built by Israel to separate it from Palestinian territory in the West Bank, or on the barrier already separating Israel from Gaza. It says that a barrier following agreed borders could increase security between a Palestinian state and Israel by reducing the flow of arms, insurgents and terrorists into Israel — and could decrease the cost of policing border crossings. However, consistent with the findings of the earlier study the new report points out that an impermeable barrier could also have harmful effects, including significantly limiting economic growth in Palestine and reducing the ability of Palestine to interact with the outside world.

A donation by David and Carol Richards initiated and provided most funding for the new study. The Richards earlier provided funding for “Building a Successful Palestinian State.” Funding for all three RAND reports on Palestine also came from philanthropic donations and fees RAND earned on client-funded research.

Copies of “Building a Successful Palestinian State: Security,” (ISBN: 0-8330-3811-7) can be ordered from RAND's Distribution Services (order@rand.org or call toll-free in the United States 1-877-584-8642).

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