Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent proposal for a NATO-led peacekeeping operation in Palestine is not a novel idea. Similar proposals were floated by both the Clinton and Bush administrations as well as in NATO’s 2010 “Albright report.” But Abbas’ plan, which calls for NATO troops to be indefinitely deployed to protect the West Bank and Gaza as well as checkpoints within East Jerusalem, is worth considering.
There are several reasons why NATO should take the idea seriously. First, and most obviously, NATO could make a significant contribution toward facilitating peace between Israel and Palestine. Without doubt, NATO would offer a far more credible, reliable and capable force than, say, U.N. peacekeepers could. Helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would clearly serve both American and European security interests.
NATO also has its own reasons to consider Abbas’ proposal. After Afghanistan, the alliance must find a new mission to maintain relevance. Few NATO members, the U.S. included, have the appetite for another long-lasting stabilization effort. Protecting the Israel-Palestine peace, however, would be a very different undertaking, immediately shoring up NATO’s standing.