Ali Ettefagh at PostGlobal

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. He is the co-author of several books on trade conflict, resolution of international trade disputes, conflicts in letters of credit, trade-related banking transactions, sovereign debt, arbitration and dispute resolutions and publications specific to the oil and gas, communication, aviation and finance sectors. Dr. Ettefagh is a member of the executive committee and the board of directors of The Development Foundation, an advisor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and an advisor to a number of European companies. Dr. Ettefagh speaks Persian (Farsi), English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Turkish. Close.

Ali Ettefagh

Tehran, Iran

Dr. Ali Ettefagh serves as a director of Highmore Global Corporation, an investment company in emerging markets of Eastern Europe, CIS, and the Middle East. more »

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Create a UN Protectorate

Recent events in Gaza and the West Bank are the fruits of an old classic ploy -- divide and dominate, if only to buy time and delay reality. However, this tactic has not yielded the results that Israel & Co. intended.

Branding Hamas a terrorist organization has backfired. It has polarized the fragile political eco-system in the Palestinian authority. Those who refuse to recognize Hamas discard all respect for the votes of the Palestinian people, setting out instead to divide Palestinian politics into the old, tested Fatah wing of the PLO and the relatively new movement of Hamas that won the votes of those fed up with the PLO’s indecision.

In Israel, extremists murdered Yitzhak Rabin and snuffed out the peace process. They set out for a clean break led by New Likud, Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, and a new chapter in Zionist militarism was opened. Palestinians mirrored that political reality and revived Hamas, with parallel military and political wings modeled after the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein. Both New Likud and Hamas leaned toward surgical violence -- Hamas with its suicide bombers, Israel with targeted killing of personalities in Palestine.

Absurd disagreements have grown out of a dispute over $100 million -- a month of Palestinian tax revenues! Israelis thought that such tools could bring Palestinians to their knees or that, alternatively, this sum of money was enough cash to destroy Israel. Somehow, a few small minds focused on their deep personal differences and forgot about the primary goal of serving their own people and the stark need to sit down with cool heads and negotiate an equitable and sustainable long-term deal. Saudi Arabia tried to convince Palestinians to unite and put out feelers to Israel to find some sort of common ground, as recently as three months ago. Alas, all efforts have been in vain.

We now have a hopeless situation: Palestinian civil war and an Israeli political structure under renovation, with Ehud Barak preparing to revamp the Labour Party (in anticipation of changes in the U.S. administration). Outside forces are dealing with their own issues: the U.S. administration has precious little credibility in the region, a lame duck British government is tight-lipped on its regional policy, and the French government is too busy with the internal politics of a new president. Major Sunni states (namely Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and to a lesser extent Jordan) are helplessly watching the defeat of their Mecca Accords as they observe the confusion in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Iraq. In the meantime, violence spreads in every direction. Whatever happened to the lofty aims and declarations of the Madrid Peace Conference and the long series of half-hearted starts for a new Middle East?

More than 40 years have passed since the 1967 war and at least two generations of Arabs and Palestinians are waiting for an equitable outcome of this endless saga. The self-appointed leaders of the world are all busy with their own diversions. It might be useful to go back to the fundamentals of the UN Charter and let the world assembly take serious charge of the matter. A Kosovo-style UN protectorate should be established to take control of the Palestinian Authority and its territory, and a short-, medium- and long-term plan with a fixed timetable should be included in a single UN Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the charter. The Oslo Agreement ought to form the backbone of this resolution with an 8-10 year schedule, the final objective being a Palestinian state. To avoid favoritism, lobbies, and domestic influence on American politicians (the well-known favors-for-vetoes regime), the matter ought to be tasked to a special UN committee elected by the General Assembly.

Such a move would put Israel on notice to stop its surgical bombardments, put Palestinian tax revenues in a transparent distribution system (away from Fatah and Hamas) and provide real, even-handed security for both sides of this festering conflict. Economic development and the creation of jobs in Gaza, in an atmosphere of guaranteed security, would eventually deflate the egos of hotheaded extremists and redirect attention to pursuing useful steps toward peace.

The United Nations created the state of Israel in 1948 as a safe haven for Jews, a refuge from violence and the Holocaust. In hindsight, it was a half-finished and roughly designed project. Israel is the only place where Jews and Arabs have both suffered from violence. There is no better time to finish the old project, create a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and let the world police it with firm enforcement. In turn, such modern thinking would snuff out the roots of extremist ideologies (like al Qaeda’s) and their justification for violence.

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