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What can Europe do in Gaza? A EUBAM II or EubamLex mission?

(B2)The Czech Republic – which holds the presidency of the EU – Javier Solana, the chief diplomat of the EU, but also France, Greece (1), Turkey and Egypt (2) are concocting crisis exit plans for Gaza, after (and if) a ceasefire succeeds. All these plans have one constant: first a truce (a ceasefire), then the deployment of an international observation mission at the borders or an international “mechanism” in exchange for a limited reopening of the borders. borders.

But they differ on the function and mandate assigned to this force: simple ceasefire observation force – useless say the Israelis if it is a matter of only counting shots – or
a real control force installed in an international buffer zone responsible not only for controlling passage at the official border point – the role of the EU “Eubam” mission – but for monitoring and patrolling all along the border, to make it waterproof and complete, and avoid incursions through tunnels. A wish also from Egypt which, since Hamas came to power in Gaza, has closed the Rafah border point, reopening it only occasionally, and is not keen to reopen it without compensation.

Several options are thus possible for Europeans:

1. Reactivate the “Eubam” mission, now suspended, which was established as part of the disengagement agreement concluded between the Palestinian Authority and Israel: the EU playing the role of third party responsible for controlling, verify and evaluate the performance of the Palestinians in their daily management of the Rafah border crossing terminal. Its role is limited but its usefulness is not disputed. THE reactivation plan is ready. All that is missing is the political green light from the States of the region.

2. Participate in or be the driving force behind an international observation force along the border (Eubam II):

a – to observe and report incidents (such as the Eumm Georgia mission),

b – to provide assistance and training to local border forces (such as the Eubam mission in Moldova / Ukraine),

c – responsible for having a direct operational role, control, intervention (like the Eulex mission in Kosovo), even arrest (Eunavfor in Somalia).

3. Have a new type of operation, combining observation, direct intervention and strengthening of the rule of law, in two main areas, police and border control, EubamLex type mission.

The fact that this mission must be carried out with unrecognized political forces (Hamas in Gaza) requires a certain political headache. But Europeans are used to this type of situation (cf. with Ukraine facing Transnistria, a supposedly independent zone but not recognized by any state). It should be noted that the Middle East – Israel-Palestine – is among the areas under surveillance by EU General Staff planners (see future areas of action).


(1) Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Sunday, like her Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, on Monday, called for the deployment of international observers. Meeting the latter, the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke of the need for a “mechanism” to ensure a truce.

 (2) Egypt and Turkey proposed a 4-point plan: immediate cessation of hostilities, return to the truce agreement broken by Hamas, reopening of the crossing points between the Gaza Strip and Israel and resumption of dialogue inter-Palestinian. A plan which, if we add the observers, looks very similar to the one proposed in Georgia this summer. The Turk Babacan also made an express reference to it. “The international community must mobilize in this crisis as it mobilized over Georgia.”

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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