Saturday, August 12, 2006

What are the chances that UN resolution 1701 will end the Israel-Lebanese-Hezbollah conflict?

The UN Security Council's unanimous adoption of Resolution 1701 yesterday calls for a "cessation of hostilities" in the war between Israel and the Hezbollah militia that has killed some one thousand Lebanese and a hundred and twenty three Israelis, and displaced more than 1 million people, in addition to the destruction of Lebanon's only international airport, as well as all its major roads, bridges and power stations, effectively cutting Lebanon off from the rest of the world.

The resolution imposes an arms embargo on the delivery of weapons or military equipment to "any entity or individual" in Lebanon excluding the Lebanese army and UN troops. However, the timing for the end of hostilities has not yet been agreed by Lebanon (making Lebanon as guilty as Israel for delaying the end to the fighting).

Resolution 1701 also authorises the deployment of 15,000 foreign troops authorised to "take all necessary action" needed to keep the peace - and this must give us hope, though it is doubtful whether foreign troops will be as dedicated at keeping the peace in a country which is not their own, as will either the Israelis or the Hezbollah in pursuing their respective aims.

Though the UN troops will apparently be joined by 15,000 Lebanese troops which Lebanon plans to send to its south, it is unlikely that these 30k together will be able to match a not-yet-disarmed Hezbollah, if that party is determined to disrupt the peace.

Which is the nub of the matter. The whole crisis was unleashed by Hezbollah's kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and, as far as I can see, Hezbollah has not said anything at all in relation to the current negotiations at the UN.

In theory, the text of the resolution is absolutely clear about the disarming of Hezbollah; in Clause OP8, the text "Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:
• full respect for the Blue Line by both parties,
• security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area,
• full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state."

However, in the absence of Hezbollah accepting this clear and absolute requirement for disarming, I therefore doubt if peace will actually result at all from this UN resolution and the actions that follow from it - or, if peace does result, I doubt that such a peace will last long.

On the other hand, if Hezbollah does agree to be disarmed, Lebanon will have a proper government (and not merely a lame government) after a very long time - and therefore real prospects for peace - which is after all the purpose for which the Olmert government was originally, but only a short while ago, elected by the Israelis. A purpose tragically interrupted by very deliberate Hezbollah actions. Sphere: Related Content

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