Israel is a small country in a region of the world where most of the other states and most of their population don’t recognize Israel’s right of existence. Israel maintains diplomatic relations with 162 countries while there are 193 member states of The United Nations (UN). This may seem a large percentage however some of those that don’t maintain diplomatic relations with Israel actively seek her destruction. It would be natural for Israel to feel isolated and vulnerable. However the world cares in its own way.
Put yourself in the shoes of the 58 member countries of the UN whose leaders have decided to contribute troops or direct finances to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and other International Forces on Israel’s borders; and even more countries who previously contributed. Consider the size of the world and its numerous conflicts yet there is a disproportionate number caring for Israel. Of the 15 UN peacekeeping operations and one special political mission there are three on Israel’s borders; UNIFIL with Lebanon, UNDOF with Syria and UNTSO throughout. In addition there is the MFO in Sinai as part of the peace treaty with Egypt and the TIPH in the City of Hebron. The considerations of these 58 countries should be recognized, evaluated and applauded.
The risks are high for them as the troops are in battle zones. The contributing countries bear part of the financial and human costs of the effort, even though many are developing countries in their own right. They offer their forces at the expensive of their own domestic priorities of health care and education. The contributing countries appear to have no direct benefit in deploying forces for they are not party to Israel’s battles nor do they identify with Israel’s adversaries. The public opinion in their own countries would turn against them dramatically should anything happen to these soldiers in UN missions. Yet, without hesitation they have answered the call of United Nations Security Council Resolutions since 1948, to contribute to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and other International Forces. This contribution is not boasted yet it is significant and although it cannot be measured it is nonetheless endowing to Israel’s national security.
UNTSO was the first ever peacekeeping operation established by the United Nations in May 1948 with Israel’s independence. Current personnel come from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Malawi, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
Austria, Croatia, India and the Philippines are the contributors to the UNDOF on Israel’s border with Syria and inside Syria. Croatia a new country took a brave decision to contribute to this force and has since been forced to withdraw while the Philippines contingent has faced kidnappings on a number of occasions by Syrian rebels. The current mandate that has been extended every six months since 1974 is due to expire on 30 June 2013 so there will shortly be a United Nations Security Council debate and vote.
The TIPH was established by an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians stating that Norway, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey are all to provide the TIPH with personnel, to coordinate its activities in the City of Hebron and to finance it. The TIPH mandate has been renewed every six months since the multinational TIPH mission entered into force on 1 February 1997.
Thirteen nations (Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the United States and Uruguay) contribute contingents to make up the MFO Force in the Sinai that was established stemming from Annex I to the Treaty of Peace between Israel and Egypt. Revenue is also generated from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland.
UNFIL is on Israel’s border with Lebanon and has forces contributed by Armenia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Croatia, Cyprus, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey. For example Ireland, a neutral country, is a stalwart contributor with experience dating back to its first support for UN peacekeeping operations in 1958. UNIFIL was established in March 1978 while the mandate was enhanced and expanded following the 2006 Israeli-Hizbullah War.
On the other hand 19 of the 22 members of the Arab League that refuse to recognize Israel’s right of existence are the minority compared to those 162 states of the United Nations that do; where history has shown that majority favor is the most righteous of all arrangements. It is the solid and caring support of the 58 countries that contribute to the Peacekeeping and International Forces that clearly indicates that the world is not apathetic to Israel’s existence. Their diversity and indeed the resolutions approved by the United Nations Security Council issuing a mandate for these operations shows that the world cares. It is time that this should be recognized, evaluated and applauded; be it in private, be it in publications or be it at public conferences such as to be held at the Institute for National Security Studies Tel Aviv on 20 June. The world cares for Israel.
Dr Glen Segell, FRGS, is Researcher at The Institute for National Security Studies Tel Aviv, Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Senior Researcher for the Ariel Research Center for Defense and Communication.