We are ending the first day of the ceasefire in Lebanon.
Here in Israel we really didn’t expect it to hold even this long — didn’t expect Hezbollah to hold fire for more than and hour or two, if that. In fact, what has become clear is that one reason the Israeli Cabinet signed off on this was with the expectation that it wouldn’t hold.
It certainly is fragile.
Beyond the issue of whether Hezbollah fires, is the issue of how the parameters, as spelled out in the agreement so meticulously and painfully hammered out (excuse my sarcasm) by the US and France, will play out.
I mention first that this resolution was drafted under chapter 6 and not chapter 7 of the UN charter. This means it does not have the weight of international law and is not enforceable. Beyond that is some apparent contradiction between resolution clause OP11, which calls for UNIFIL troops (international troops under UN auspices, consisting of French and others) to support and assist Lebanese troops, and OP12, which authorizes UNIFIL to take "all necessary action" "to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities." What’s being asked, in essence, is if the UNIFIL troops can act autonomously, rather than just taking its lead from Lebanon. Whatever the apparent confusion, I would have bet from the get-go that OP11 would be scrupulously followed, and indeed that seems to be what is already transpiring.
Yesterday, the Lebanese cabinet postponed a meeting with regard to deploying its army because Hezbollah refused to consider disarming. Clearly, the Lebanese army, which has a considerable Hezbollah contingent, is not doing to do forced disarmament.
But now, even though Hezbollah hasn’t agreed to disarm, Lebanon has said it will have troops in the field within 72 hours. Your guess as to what this means is as good as mine. There’s some talk about incorporating Hezbollah into the Lebanese army, so they don’t have to disarm. (Shades of Mahmoud Abbas and his move to incorporate Hamas into the PA security forces a couple of years ago, when he was supposed to disarm Hamas — we know what that led to.)
While French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy has let it be known that the French contingent of UNIFIL troops will not be disarming Hezbollah. Quelle surprise!
And the Italian prime minister has said Italy would consider sending troops, but the mandate is vague and they need clarification.
And there’s more: while Israel remains in place in southern Lebanon until the international troops come in, and will be continuing to monitor the Lebanese coastline by ship, and doing air surveillance, the IDF will not be manning the border between Lebanon and Syria. This means that even now Syria and Iran undoubtedly are in the process of re-arming Hezbollah. Beyond this, I read of concern at the White House that re-arming would be done via north Lebanon, as well.
And what about Hezbollah, which has refused to disarm? Nasrallah, speaking on al-Manar TV today said that Hezbollah would be funding the rebuilding of 15,000 homes for Lebanese civilians. (And where do you imagine that money will come from??) "You will not wait in any line or for government funds because this may take too long. We will come to you and grant you funds worth a year’s rent and for furniture. In the meantime we will rebuild your destroyed homes.” Is it necessary to spell out what this will do for Hezbollah popularity in Lebanon?
Oh! there’s also the issue of the kidnapped soldiers, whom Israel originally insisted had to be returned before fighting would stop. There is no ceasefire provision for their return, and Olmert has admitted that he decided to stop fighting before they were returned. There is talk of some sort of committee to help secure their release (the argument being that we are in a better position to do so now). The huge danger here is that we will end up caving either on release of Lebanese prisoners or on giving Shabaa Farms to Lebanon (both issues being alluded to — in non-binding fashion — in the UN resolution).
Is this not stomach-turning? Is this not a very sick joke? But never mind, Prime Minister Olmert is explaining to the nation why resolution 1701 was a good deal for Israel. I must confess however, that Olmert’s days as head of the government may be limited; there is a movement afoot to bring him down when time is right. (Myself, I think it is not yet right; while we still have troops in Lebanon and the war might get hot at any moment, we cannot be between governments. But oh! I pray his time will come.)
Joke of the day: State Department spokesman Sean McCormack today said that the UN-declared cease-fire in Lebanon, if fully implemented, would be a strategic setback for Iran and Syria because it strengthens democracy in Lebanon and stabilizes the border with Israel. "You will not have Hezbollah roaming freely in the south of Lebanon. Iran and Syria will not have had the ability to rearm Hezbollah." Please note that one little stipulation: "if fully implemented." Right…
No joking matter at all is the way in which the perceived Hezbollah victory has been received by Hamas in Gaza. Palestinian Authority Minister of Culture Atallah Abu al-Sabah, speaking at a pro-Hezbollah rally in Gaza City, said, "The saying that Israel is here to stay has proven to be a false one. Israel can be defeated and this is what the Arab regimes should know. It’s time to remove the dust from Arab weapons and to use them to liberate Palestine and the Aksa Mosque." What this means is further difficulty in Gaza and Judea-Samaria.
Al-Sabah went on to express his wish that "every Arab capital would have its own Hezbollah… Hezbollah has taught Israel an unforgettable lesson and we hope that all the Arab countries will start recruiting and training young men to fight like the great Hezbollah fighters."
This, then, my friends, is the reason why we needed a decisive military victory. Let there be no mistake about it. According to Khaled Abu Toameh of the Post, the fact that many Palestinians and Arabs are convinced that Hezbollah has won the war will boost the popularity of groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida.
If I laugh sometimes, it is only so that I not cry. This is actually fairly unbearable.
JINSA has it right: "There is no mechanism, except continued fighting by Israel, to disarm Hezbollah…There is no mechanism, except continued fighting by Israel, to close the Syrian/Iranian supply lines into Lebanon. There is no mechanism, except continued fighting by Israel, to force Hezbollah to return the two soldiers. UN Security Council members can pat themselves on the back for their words, but the awful work of fighting to redeem the captives, end the barrage of rockets, and bring sovereignty to Lebanon, is left to Israel and the IDF with no real help from Turtle Bay."
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2006/8/14/posted-august-14-2006.html