Contribution of Israeli police for Haiti mission bogged down in high court U.S. INTERVENTION IN HAITI

September 30, 1994|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Jerusalem Bureau of The Sun

JERUSALEM -- Israel says it is trying to send help to U.S. troops in Haiti, but its forces cannot seem to get there.

Since preparations began for a U.S. invasion of Haiti, Israel has been gearing up to send 30 police officers as its contribution to multinational unity.

Yesterday, the Israeli Supreme Court imposed another delay -- this one for five days -- on the departure of the force while the court considers the legality of sending Israeli police overseas.

The Israeli government's foiled efforts to respond to a personal request from President Clinton for participation in the Haiti operation have generated amusement and embarrassment. But they also have struck a nerve here over Israel's obligations to the United States and to the world.

Israelis are accustomed to being on the receiving end of international help: The United States sends more aid here than ++ to any other country.

But when the U.S. request came for Israel to send police to help keep order in Haiti, a debate arose over whether Israel should be sending police overseas.

Israel has no choice, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told a closed meeting of his Cabinet on Wednesday, according to Israel Radio. Mr. Rabin said that accepting American aid is not a one-way street.

To add to the Israeli government's embarrassment, the lawsuit that has blocked the police departure was brought by Noam Federman, an avowed right-wing racist jailed frequently for his attacks on Arabs.

Mr. Federman's legal challenge argues that the police officers' jurisdiction ends at Israel's borders and that they cannot be sent to a foreign land. The government has tried to sidestep the objection by arguing that the officers are "volunteers."

Since the nation's inception in 1948, Israelis have not been welcome in U.N. forces. Their participation would have caused a walkout by Arab nations, Third World countries and Soviet allies.

With the end of the Cold War and the prospect of peace in the Middle East, most barriers have fallen. Israel has dispatched "humanitarian" units -- an army hospital to Rwanda, rescue squads to earthquakes in Armenia and Bulgaria, demolitions experts to Buenos Aires after the bombing of a Jewish center.

So far, Israeli soldiers have not participated in international peacekeeping forces.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.