Kosovo's U.S.-backed declaration of independence this month is deeply troubling. By setting a precedent of legitimizing the secession of disaffected minorities, it weakens the long-term viability of multi-ethnic states. In so doing, it destabilizes the already stressed state-based international system.
Countries as diverse as Canada, Morocco, Spain, Georgia, Russia and China currently suffer problems with politicized minorities. They are deeply concerned by the Kosovo precedent.
The fledgling failed-state of Kosovo — an entity that is as lacking in economic viability and political stability as the Palestinian territories — is also a great boon for the global jihad. It is true that Kosovar Muslims by and large do not subscribe to radical Islam. But it is also true that they have allowed their territory to be used as bases for Al Qaeda operations; that members of the ruling Kosovo Liberation Army have direct links to Al Qaeda; and that the Islamic world as a whole perceived Kosovo's fight for independence from Serbia as a jihad for Islamic domination of the disputed province.
For Israel, Kosovo's U.S.-backed declaration of independence should be a source of alarm great enough to require a rethinking of foreign policy. Unfortunately, rather than understand and implement the lessons of Kosovo, the Olmert government is working to ensure that they are re-enacted in the international community's treatment of Israel and the Palestinians. Today, Israel is enabling the Palestinians to set the political and legal conditions for the establishment of an internationally recognized state that will be at war with Israel.
By accepting the road-map plan to a two-state solution in 2004, Israel empowered the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, who comprise the international Quartet, to serve as judges of Palestinian and Israeli actions toward one another. That these moves have made Israel dependent on the kindness of strangers was made clear this week when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni instructed Israel's ambassadors to launch a campaign to convince the international community that Israel and the Palestinians are making great strides in their negotiations toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.
If Israel had not empowered the Quartet generally — and the United States specifically — to determine whether the Palestinian Authority and Israel are behaving properly, a European or Russian decision to recognize Hamas would have little impact. But given their role as arbiters, Quartet members can take punitive action against Israel if it fails to comply with their wishes. The Quartet can replace international law in determining who can assert sovereignty over Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and how Israel can exercise its own sovereignty. And so, Livni is reduced to begging them not to recognize Hamas.
NATO deployed in Kosovo to enable it to gain independence. And if U.S. or NATO forces are deployed to Gaza or Judea and Samaria, they will not be there to protect Israelis from Palestinian terror or to prevent the areas from acting as global terror bases. They will be there to establish a Palestinian state.
Failing to understand the meaning of Kosovo, the Israeli government refuses to understand this point. Indeed, the government is actively lobbying NATO to deploy forces in Gaza. Just as it wrongly hoped that UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon would fight Hezbollah for it, so today, the Olmert government insists that NATO forces in Gaza will fight Hamas for it.
If NATO forces in Gaza would do nothing to secure the border with Egypt or to fight terrorists, and would scuttle Israeli operations in the area, NATO forces in Judea and Samaria would not simply prevent Israel from protecting citizens who live there. They would also prevent Israel from taking action to prevent the Palestinians from attacking central Israel and asserting control over the border with Jordan. And yet, Israel is conducting talks with America regarding such a deployment.
What the Serbs made NATO fight its way in to achieve, Israel is offering NATO on a silver platter.
Not surprisingly, Abbas' adviser and P.A. propaganda chief Yasser Abd Rabbo reacted to Kosovo's declaration of independence by recommending that the Palestinians follow suit.
For its part, the Israeli government has responded to Kosovo's declaration of independence with customary confusion. But the lessons of Kosovo for Israel of the dangers of depending on international forces remain all too clear.
Caroline Glick is a Jerusalem-based columnist.