Steven Balkin
Inspired by Martin Buber and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Open Memo to Norway-Ireland-Spain

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store announces that Norway will recognize Palestine as an independent state in Oslo, Norway, on May 22. (ERIK FLAARIS JOHANSEN/NTB/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

To: Prime Ministers Jonas Gahr Store of Norway, Simon Harris of Ireland, and Pedro Sanchez of Spain.
Subject: Take the Next Step to Your Recognition of a Palestinian State.
Date: May 24, 2024

As a gesture for promoting peace, I congratulate you on recognizing the State of Palestine. But as Roger Cohen says in his article in the May 23, 2024 NY Times “… the mere act of recognition changes nothing on the ground, where day by day conditions deteriorate.”

I therefore implore you to not stop there.  Take action now to stop the war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel. You can prevent casualties and fatalities from all sides to this conflict.  Yes, you can do it!!

You three countries must be the core of a third party intervention into Gaza that civilian Palestinians (including tribal, clan, and NGO groups), Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and Israelis (including the Likud Coalition government) can all trust.

First you need to mediate a peace treaty agreement between Hamas and the Israeli government specifying the conditions for peace which involves the immediate return of all hostages along with Hamas demilitarization and deradicalization, I have given an example of such conditions in a recent Blog post.

The purpose of the peace conditions is to give Israel a reality in Gaza such that Israelis can feel confident that never again will it be attacked by its Palestinian neighbors and to assure civilian Palestinians that they will no longer be threatened by Hamas for pursing political and cultural objectives that involve freedom of the press, religion, association, and lifestyle different than those practiced by Hamas members.  The peace treaty agreement must also include details for a permanent ceasefire, for an Israeli pull out from Gaza, and protection for Hamas members and related groups against retaliation.  You have to give remaining Hamas members a reason that they avoid extermination after the hostages are returned and Hamas agrees to peaceful demilitarized behavior.

I also strongly suggest to Israel that all charges of corruption, political incompetence, and malfeasance against PM Netanyahu and his allies be dropped.  No legal action against a politician is worth a delay of even one minute in stopping violence and getting the hostages returned.

You (Norway-Ireland-Spain) must offer to enter Gaza with sufficient military and administrative infrastructure to be a intermediary guarantor to assure that Hamas and Israel will abide by their peace treaty agreements.

Once your offer of intervention is accepted by all parties, you then have to actually go inside Gaza to fulfill your crucial peace role that is necessary for the war to stop and for a Palestinian State to be realized.  This intervention for saving lives, Arab lives and Israeli lives, will involve shrewdness and fortitude, but the most of the world will be on your side with money, resources, and gratitude.  Former Israeli ambassador to the US Itamar Rabinovich says, “If they (Norway, Ireland, and Spain) sent 30,000 European troops to Gaza to end the war, it would be different, but we know that if 10 of them were killed, they would all leave immediately.”

I disagree with naysayer Ambassador Rabinovich.  I think your casualty and fatality rates will be close to zero because you will not be going into Gaza unless all sides agree beforehand to your peace making and peace keeping presence.  You hold the cards because if you leave Gaza prematurely (I expect your peace fulfilling tenure there to be two years at most.), the killing will resume.  But if you stay until genuine peace and harmony prevail between Gaza and Israel, a future positive trajectory will have been put into motion that cannot be turned back.

Once the Gaza war is stopped, other countries (e.g. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and maybe even the Abrahamic Accord countries along with Saudi Arabia) can and will replace you to intervene in the West Bank to stop the violence there.  That next peace making-peace keeping group will then be working with Palestinian civilians, the Palestinian Authority, and other Palestinian political groups as well as Israelis to reach peace and harmony there.  That will be the next step to a Palestinian State or perhaps a reconfiguration from a two state solution to a three state solution.

Once you three countries follow your words with intrusive actions towards a permanent Gazan War cessation, I have no doubt that the next Nobel Peace Prize is yours.

About the Author
Dr. Steven Balkin is a Professor Emeritus at Roosevelt University in Chicago where he teaches courses in economics, social justice, and criminal justice. His PhD. is from Wayne State University in Detroit. He is the author of many articles and a book: Self-Employment for Low Income People. His research focus is on violence prevention, international development, entrepreneurship, and cultural preservation. He is a member of the Chicago Political Economy Group.
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