Israel should not have to fight Hamas alone. An international coalition, Canada included, must destroy the terror group and give the Palestinian people the space to put their house in order.
An army of international troops would offer the best chance of freeing the hostages held by Hamas, ensuring humanitarian aid reaches the people of Gaza, salvaging any hope of a two-state solution and bringing stability to the region. And it is a task that Canada is uniquely suited to.
On his trip to Israel last week, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested the Global Coalition against Daesh — an 86-member alliance tasked with dismantling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that includes efforts to cut off the group’s funding and build infrastructure and institutions in liberated areas — “should also fight against Hamas.”
The campaign against ISIS has been a huge success story, transforming the terrorist organization from a major global threat that controlled large swaths of territory a decade ago into little more than an afterthought. Unfortunately, the French president has yet to bring others on board with his plan, largely because Arab states have shown little interest in creating such a force, and the United States is leery to go ahead without them.
Yet Macron’s idea of building “a regional and international coalition to battle against terrorist groups that threaten us all” received a ringing endorsement from Israel’s president this week, who said that, “This threat must be eradicated by a major effort of the international community.”
Rather than making constant statements like, “Israel has the right to defend itself, but the price of justice cannot be the continued suffering of all Palestinian civilians,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should put his money where his mouth is and take action to ensure both these priorities are met.
Fighting alongside Israel and other willing allies would send a powerful message that the civilized world will not tolerate the type of brutality and barbarism that Hamas committed against innocent civilians on Oct. 7.
Equally as important, an international coalition that acts in co-ordination with Israel could ensure that humanitarian aid enters the Strip and does not end up being repurposed to support terrorism.
Canada could, for example, set up a field hospital to treat Palestinian civilians. By running it ourselves, we could ensure that it would be safe from Israeli airstrikes, would have adequate supplies of fuel and would not be used as a base of operations for Hamas.
An international force would also lend much-needed legitimacy to any governance structure that is set up once Hamas is defeated. At the moment, there are few good options for what to do with Gaza once the war has ended.
If Israel were to reoccupy the territory, it would risk not only the fragile peace forged through the Abraham Accords, but also its relationship with its western allies. Trying to reestablish the Palestinian Authority there would make sense, but it is barely strong enough to hold onto the West Bank and is itself a supporter of terror.
Immediate democratic elections are not an option because terrorist groups maintain high levels of support among the Palestinian people. It was an election, after all, that paved the way for Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in 2007.
The most viable option is therefore for an international force to come in to maintain order, protect human rights, prevent terrorist organizations from establishing bases of operation in the territory and build the institutions and infrastructure necessary for a future democratic Palestinian state that doesn’t rely on Israel for basic utilities such as power and water.
This is something that the Israelis would never be able to do. But an international coalition that includes a major power like the United States and some representation from the Arab world would have legitimacy. The U.S. could likely be convinced if countries such as Israel, Canada, France, the United Kingdom and Germany were on board. The trick would be getting buy-in from Gulf states, but this is not impossible.
In recent weeks, Israel has not only had to fend off attacks from Hamas. Hezbollah has been firing rockets and missiles from Lebanon into northern Israel on a daily basis. The Jewish state has also come under fire from Houthis in Yemen. All three groups are supported by Iran, whose terror proxies have also claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks on U.S. military assets in Iraq and Syria.
It’s clear that Tehran is launching a wider regional war, of which Saudi Arabia has a clear interest in containing. A coalition that aimed to quash Iran’s proxies, provide humanitarian assistance to Gazans and set the stage for an eventual two-state solution would have a real chance of wooing Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries.
Decades of Hamas rule has left the Palestinian people unable to grasp how many opportunities for peace and prosperity they allowed to slip away. An international force could give them a chance to find new leadership and peace with Israel.
Canada could play a leading role in making this happen, just as we did in 1956, when then-foreign minister Lester B. Pearson proposed creating the first major United Nations peacekeeping force to intervene in the Suez Crisis. This is a proud history that Trudeau should continue, but that would mean taking a leadership role in global affairs and a moral stand against terrorism.
Source: National Post