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DPIR alumnus Michael Manulak proposes post-war solution to Israel-Palestine crisis

DPIR alumnus Michael Manulak has co-written a new article “A UN Trusteeship for Palestine: A Temporary Fix That Can Lead to an Enduring Peace”. It is published in Foreign Affairs magazine, a prominent voice in international relations. 

The article proposes a post-war UN trusteeship as a solution to the escalating crisis in Israel, Palestine and the Middle East. 

Michael wrote the piece alongside Lloyd Axworthy, a former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Allan Rock, formerly Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations. 

What are UN trusteeships and how do they work?

UN trusteeships were created following World War Two as a means of supervising and protecting territories that were not self-governed. This included former colonies, territories taken from Axis powers, and others. 

Under the supervision of the UN Trusteeship Council, which was set up in 1945, one or more countries are assigned to oversee administration of a trusted territory. The ultimate goal of UN trusteeships was – and still is in theory – to facilitate this territory's self-governance and independence.

Previous successes

Cameroon, New Guinea, Palau, Togoland, and Western Somoa all gained independence through UN trusteeships. The last of these – Palau – gained independence in 1994, and this was followed shortly by the suspension of the trusteeship system. 

Although the Trusteeship Council is currently inactive, it could still be reactivated to ensure new trusted territories are administered in the best interests of their inhabitants, as well as to ensure international peace and security. 

How does Michael expect the proposed trusteeship to work in Israel-Palestine?

As the goal of a trusteeship is to facilitate independence, such a system in Palestine would lead to it becoming an independent state in future.

While the notion of a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine continues to prove controversial, Michael and his co-authors state their belief that a UN trusteeship, and ultimately the creation of a separate Palestinian state, could help the process of ‘rebuilding Gaza’ after the war, as well as guaranteeing Israel’s security, and offering the ‘best chance of peace’ in the region.

Under the model proposed in the article, a temporary UN trusteeship would include both Gaza and the West Bank, ‘would operate with the support of the international community’, and would provide a structured timeline for Palestinian independence.

A ‘complex’ issue

As the co-authors state in the article, negotiations over such an agreement would be ‘complex’, as ‘all sides would need to feel that their interests would be safeguarded’. To be successful, the proposal would need ‘the support of Israel, the [Palestinian Authority], moderate forces in Gaza, and the United States’. 

Despite this complexity, Michael, Lloyd and Allan believe this option would be simpler than the alternatives. With this in mind, they have proposed the idea to different international governments. Michael says: 

“We’ve been trying to get the idea some circulation internationally, speaking informally with a number of governments and elaborating on it. We think it is a good and constructive proposal that should be considered carefully once they get down to seriously considering who will administer Gaza post-hostilities. We’ve had some encouraging responses.”

Follow-up articles

Since the article in Foreign Affairs came out, Michael and his co-authors have published a follow-up article in the Globe and Mail and a podcast for the Canadian Global Affairs Institute