Helena Cobban Profile picture
Dec 21 44 tweets 10 min read Read on X
THREAD: The role of the 'monitoring mechanism' in the UN Security Council's #GazaCeasefire negotiations >
Back on Monday, the UNSC started discussions on another UAE-provided draft for a #GazaCeasefire resolution. It has still not gone to a vote. News rpts indicate the hold-up is the desire to find wording that does not "force" the US to cast another veto >
And also that one key issue of dissension between the US and the rest is the mention in the current version of a UN-organized *monitoring mechanism* to speed up delivery of aid into Gaza > Image
That screengrab of the draft resn was from this UN web-page that gives live(-ish) updates of the discussions on this resolution. But it's significant the page hasn't been updated since Tuesday afternoon: news.un.org/en/story/2023/…
So the key aspect of that monitoring mechanism language is that the resolution's supporters want this mechanism to be "independent of all parties". Yes, that includes Israel, which since 1967 has controlled all movements of goods & people into and out of the Strip. >
It does that because, under international law, it is classified as the "military occupying power" in #Gaza. Has been, continuously since 1967. It's used its control of all Gaza's borders to exert massive pressure on the strip's 2.3 million people. >
You can find a lot of solid info on how Israel has used that power at this page on the website of the Israeli human-rights orgn Gisha: . >features.gisha.org/kerem-shalom-c…
I'll come back with more takes from the Gisha site soon. But I want to note here that in several of the essays I wrote at last month on good (or less-bad) ways to exit the carnage in #Gaza, >Globalities.org
I stressed the need for the UN to seize control of the freight-traffic monitoring mechanism from Israel. This serves two good goals. #1 it should end the abusive cruelty that Israel has operated thru the freight monitoring system. >
#2, it could (should!) serve as a wedge through which the UN *ends Israel's occupation of Gaza once and for all.* See, e.g. this essay I published Nov 17: > globalities.org/2023/11/elemen…
(I certainly hope that significant parties to the UNSC discussion see this issue in the same way...) >
Another strong argument for Israel's control of the monitoring mechanism to be ended is that, really, it did not work prior to Oct 7 in terms of preventing the resistance's ability to build large-scale military systems, offensive & defensive. Though it did inflict huge pain on Gaza's civilians >
So before I dive into the info on Gisha's website, it's also key to note that the leaders in both Washington and Israel continue to assume that it is they, and only they, who will decide the future of of Gaza on the 'Day After' this carnage ends. >
See e.g. this piece today by the WaPo's CIA-adjacent David Ignatius: >washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/…
Here's an excerpt that illustrates their thinking: Image
I won't even go into the many glaring contradictions, inconsistencies, & gross misjudgments that little this piece... though it is interesting to see the "magical thinking" in which David's well-placed sources like to engage. >
Or, there is this from Haaretz's smart, well-connected columnist Amos Harel yesterday: >haaretz.com/israel-news/20…
Here's a little excerpt from that one: Image
Two fascinating tidbits there: One, that Washington is giving strong "recommendations" to the Israeli leadership on how to wage this war. Making it, I would say, deeply complicit in the whole war campaign. >
And two, Harel repeating something he and others have written about quite a lot recently, namely that Netanyahu fears his government may collapse when he ends the war. >
But anyway, the key thing I want to underline is the degree to which officials (& most commentators) in both Israel and DC seem to simply *assume* that they will be the only 2 parties determining when & how the war ends. >
But now, the other 14 members of the UNSC are starting (I think) to tell Washington that they want the UN to have a direct role in that matter. >
I wrote a lot on , back in October & November, about the fact that the global balance of power has shifted significantly since the 1990s, an era when a hegemonic US could almost effortlessly usurp the role of sole arbiter on matters of war and peace in the Arab-Israeli theater >Globalities.org
Indeed, how in 2004-05, Washington was even able to enlist the UN as a *junior partner* in that hideous, DC-led body the "Quartet". So now >
Will it be possible for the multipolar networks that will very soon be replacing the US-dominated unipolar world system to find a way for the UNSC to grab back control of the whole Arab-Israeli dossier? I sure hope so-- for the sake of all humanity! >
But meantime, here are few more bits of information about how the freight-crossing monitoring mechanism has been working (or, by Israel's deliberate intention, NOT working) in recent times >
So, the times I have gone as a person into the Gaza Concentration Camp in recent years, to do research or reporting, I have done so either through the ghastly big Erez checkpoint system between Gaza and Israel, located at Gaza's northern end >
Or, a couple of times through the Rafah Crossing, which links southern Gaza to the extreme NE of Egypt. Key to note: even to cross either way through Rafah, you need permission from the Israeli military through their ghastly "tanseeq" mechanism. ("Coordination".) >
Freight, however, gets monitored and transferred nearly wholly through an Israeli-controlled transit facility near the southern end of the Gaza-Israel border. (Actually, not a border but an Armistice Line). This, from Gisha > features.gisha.org/kerem-shalom-c…
The Tarqumiyeh Crossing noted there is the main point at which the Israeli military monitors freight going into or out of the *southern West Bank*. Did I mention that both the WB and Gaza are captive markets under Israel's tight control. Have been, for *56 years* now.
> Ah, so getting back to this. Here's the Gisha graphic showing the monthly average of trucks entering #Gaza through Kerem Shalom since 2007, the year when Hamas in Gaza foiled the US-Israeli-Fateh coup attempt against them: Image
To note there: the catastrophic decline in monthly ## of trucks in mid-2007, after the coup attempt was foiled. Prior to coup: 10,575 trucks/mth. Then it was kept v. low till 2014, after which it rose until 2016, then declined again. >
And let's remember that Gaza is not *just* a totally aid-dependent basket case. It has also often had a vibrant manufacturing & agricultural economy of its own, with exports, tho of course 56 years of Israeli occupation de-developed that a LOT >
So here's the Gisha graph on freight exiting Gaza. Before the coup attempt it was 1,064 trucks monthly average. Almost nothing since then. > Image
(I really wanted to note that.) But here, for contrast, are the UN-OCHA figures for truck deliveries into Gaza every DAY since November 30: > Image
That comes, on a monthly basis, to around 3,000 trucks/month-- compared with that figure of 7,982/month in 2019... and at a time when the urgent needs of Gaza's people for a wide variety of basic necessities is *extremely high*. >
A couple of final thought on this matter here. This Reuters report tell us that on 12/17, the Israelis allowed trucks to travel through the Kerem Shalom crossing *directly into Gaza* for the first time since Oct. 6 >reuters.com/world/middle-e…
Before 12/17, the only mechanism the Israelis would allow was that all aid trucks coming from Egypt had to traverse the border with Israel and undergo inspection in Kerem Shalom, and then be trucked back to the Rafah crossing to enter Gaza from there. >
Extremely persnickety & time-consuming! But even with trucks now able to transit directly to Gaza from Kerem Shalom the inspecting, the unloading & reloading are all super-time-consuming (and all done by Israeli sub-contractors with doubtless lovely profit margins.) >
The other is that actually *rebuilding* Gaza (as opposed to just sending in much-needed emergency relief supplies) will be a truly gargantuan project. Each time previously that Israel has "mowed the lawn" by unleashing ghastly violence against Gaza, >
its control of all borders meant that Israeli companies got to make super profits from supplying the goods, shipping services, etc. It was a truly grisly Keynesian scheme. This time >
the reconstruction project absolutely needs to be under the control of the UN, not of Israel. And Gaza has a lovely long coastline. So Job 1 should be for the UN to rehab its long-battered port and then bring in, through that port and thru Egypt, all the supplies the reconstruction will need. >
No more Israeli control of that! No more Israeli middlemen skimming off their share. I'll leave you with a thought from David Ignatius's piece today: Image
(Actually, if you read his whole piece, as inked to above, you'll see that his view of the nature of this "rebuilding" is very very different from mine.) THE END

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More from @helenacobban

Dec 20
THREAD: around 10 days ago, @mouinrabbani commented that the #Houthis in #Yemen didn't even really need to *hit* any of the ships passing thru the Bab El Mandeb in order to have a huge effect on global trade...> Image
That map I used was of the ship-threatening incidents Nov. 18 thru Dec 18. Source: >gcaptain.com/navy-operation…
I find gCaptain a good source of shipping news. Monday, they reported this: > Image
Read 24 tweets
Dec 5
SMALL THREAD: This week, the US corporate media have returned to doing some thumb-sucking on the matter "#Gaza: the day after". What they're now reporting is actually much *less* substantive than when they did this in mid-November. E.g. the @washingtonpost, Sunday:
Here's the lede: "TEL AVIV— The Israelis say they don’t want the job. Arab nations are resisting. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas might volunteer, but the Palestinian people probably don’t want him. /As the Biden administration begins to plan for 'the day after' in Gaza... the stakeholders face a host of unattractive options."
Where to even start critiquing that? The 3 (count 'em!) highly-paid journos bylined on that start off with considering the Israelis & the "Arab nations"
Read 15 tweets
Dec 3
THREAD: 1956, 2023, and End-of-Empire Derangement Syndrome. I've been writing since Oct 17 that since Oct 7 Israel's political and military leaders have been acting in a seemingly deranged manner, as evidenced primarily by their use of extreme amounts of violence against #Gaza with no achievable political goal in mind. ("Eliminating Hamas" certainly doesn't fall into that category.)
> Indeed, their use of such devastating amounts of force has seemed to stem much more from a blind desire for revenge than from pursuit of any recognizable political goal. (As Tom Friedman also seems to acknowledge, tho that doesn't make it any less true.) >
> I have also, a number of times, noted the parallels between Israel's fierce current assault on Gaza and the 1956 Tripartite Aggression against Egypt in which it took part alongside the UK and France. Now I'm trying to put all these observations together into a broader category >
Read 38 tweets
Nov 27
I just want to get this clear about the Israelis releasing #Palestinian prisoners. They've now rptdly released ~150 since Friday. But in the West Bank, they have detained that same number or more in these 4 days. But it's worse than that > Image
> Since Oct 7 they've arrested several 1000 of additional Palestns in the West Bank. And in #Gaza, where the IDF had "instructed" all Palestns to leave the north & to travel south down Salaheddin St... >
> the IDF then established 1 or more checkpoints on Salaheddin St to do "screening" of those evacuating per instructions. As @mosababutoha described what happened there, he was pulled away from his family & bussed into the Naqab for interrogations and > Image
Read 8 tweets
Nov 20
(Thread) So intrigued to see that the Arab-Islamic committee charged with *ending* Israel's assault on #Gaza, led by Saudi Arabia, will be visiting China tmrw (Nov 20.) Back on October 31, I'd written (at ) that:

"The leaders of China and other representatives of the Global Majority most likely did not want to be launching an open challenge to Washington’s global power right now. But the intensity of the regional and global crisis that has been sparked by the Israel-Gaza war—an intensity that Pres. Biden has greatly magnified through the strength, partisanship, and hugely escalatory potential of the actions he’s taken since 10/7—is bringing ever closer the point at which the leaders of Global Majority states might need to stage an urgent diplomatic intervention in order to defuse and de-escalate these tensions.

"Actually, the sheer horror and devastation that Gaza’s 2.3 million people are currently suffering could well provide the entry-point for a Global Majority intervention that starts with decisive U.N. action... "

And then I provided a clear agenda for how they could proceed...globalities.org/2023/10/gazas-…

> Here's a screengrab of what I wrote on Oct 31: > Image
> To me the 2 central things that need to happen are (1) the UN takes charge of ordering & monitoring the ceasefire (no more US unilateralism), and (2) the UN takes charge of delivering the relief & reconstruction aid to #Gaza (no more Israeli control of-- and profiting from-- that process.) >
Read 7 tweets
Feb 15, 2022
1/n There are 2 ways to read the @washingtonpost breathless reporting on the White House "Tiger Team" that's been "gaming out" confrontational scenarios re #Ukraine since November: washingtonpost.com/national-secur… >
2/n One way wd be to marvel at the "foresight" & smarts of Biden's forpol team. Another wd be to strongly suspect that this "Tiger Team" has been a major mechanism thru which Bidn's ppl have created & hyped the whole #UkraineCrisis. A couple of notes here: >
3/n My spouse Bill Quandt, an expert on US nat-sec policymaking recalled that in the 1980s, when dealing with the Cold War, Reagan would have *two* teams of opposing *analysts* provide their competing analyses of the murky/confusing data coming in from #Russia >
Read 11 tweets

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