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THE INDEX — September 9, 2009

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Eva-Maria Hanfstaengl: The UN's Bid for Financial Regulation

On June 26, in New York, the high-level United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development adopted unanimously an "outcome document" that opens a door—even if only a small one—to a possible UN role in the reform of global financial governance. The preparations for the UN conference, however, were not without severe difficulties. The run-up to the conference highlighted sharp differences between Southern nations, which want to give the United Nations more say in tackling the financial crisis, and Western governments, who prefer to conduct their business within the Group of 20 (G-20) nations. Until now, global financial and monetary issues have been the responsibility of the International Monetary Fund and the Group of 8 (G-8), relying on the expertise of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the Financial Stability Board, both of which include central banks and treasuries hailing largely from developed nations. However, with the present financial crisis having originated in the North and posing untold negative consequences for the South, political pressure has ramped up on the developed world to include other voices in mitigating this disaster. Impacts of the crisis, such as slowing growth rates, rising unemployment, and declining budgets are beginning to affect developing countries. Developing countries, including the poorest countries, therefore claim that everybody should have a stake in financial regulation. It is in this context that the demand for this global conference on reform of the financial and monetary system emerged.

Charles Cogan: A Modest Proposal

The irony—and the tragedy—is that the solution to the Arab-Israeli problem has been known for the last 40 years. Always, the answer is the same, as shown in the following commentary from The Economist in May 2007: “To arrive at peace, Israel would have to give up the West Bank and share Jerusalem; the Palestinians would have to give up their dream of the right of return and assure the security of Israel as a Jewish state. All the rest is detail.”

There is one detail that should be added to this tableau: the settlement must be accompanied by an international security force, including American and European troops. It would be unthinkable, given Israel’s territorial exiguity, that an international force run by troops from the West would not remain for many years in order to protect against Arab irredentism and Israeli expansionism.

Allowing the Palestinians to return to Israel, even in small numbers, would have a harmful effect on the state of Israel and on the future of that country. Just as the Germans are not going to return to East Prussia, and Mexico is not going to retake California, the Palestinians should not expect to return inside the armistice lines concluded as a result of the 1948–49 War.

The Six Day War of June 1967 constituted a clear break in American policy towards Israel. Before then, American aid to Israel was not excessive. Afterward, the situation was completely reversed, notably in the War of 1973 when the United States, faced with a desperate situation in Israel, sent in extremis and in plain sight a massive resupply of arms and ammunition into Lod Airport, in Tel Aviv, putting paid to the already tattered image of American even-handedness in the Middle East.

For Israel too, 1967 constituted a break with the past.

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