Since the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah went into effect over a week ago, Israel killed 12 Hezbollah fighters, mostly in clear acts of self-defense, and in a raid against resupply of Hezbollah by Syria. Kofi Annan expressed his concerns about this and condemned the army raid as a violation of the cease-fire, after a complaint from Lebanon, and UN envoy Terje Larsen repeated this message to foreign minister Tzipi Livni, adding
: "If you discovered arms smuggling, you could have complained through diplomatic channels."
Well, yes, of course. Israel should always make maximum use of the diplomatic channel. It should have complained about the Lebanese government decision not to push back Hezbollah north of the Litani, and to even allow them to keep their weapons as long as they don't display them into the open. Israel should have complained about Lebanese president Lahoud saying
"The weapons of the resistance are the only ones, of all Arabs, that succeeded in standing up to Israel and defeating it. No one can take away the weapons of the resistance, certainly not by force," pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, who headed the cabinet meeting, said. "The Lebanese army will deploy [in the south] and will be for all the Lebanese," he told reporters.
And Israel should have complained about statements from the commander of UNIFIL that it will not be the task of the expanded UN force to disarm Hezbollah or push them forcefully to the North. France and Italy have also announced that they don't see a task for the UN force in disarming Hezbollah, and they didn't seem very enthusiastic about actively preventing rearmament by Syria and Iran either. Also, there will not be a UN force amounting to 15.000 soldiers in Lebanon in the near future, as it seems extremely difficult to find countries who want to contribute to this force, and France announced it will only send an additional 200 soldiers. Meanwhile, Israel has withdrawn most of its troops from South Lebanon and transferred these positions to the Lebanese army.
The likely participation of Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, which have no diplomatic ties with Israel and don't recognize it, will not add to the credibility of the UN force. Its task is to prevent attacks from Hezbollah on Israel, to assist the Lebanese army in restoring its sovereignty in South Lebanon, where it has been absent for decades, and prevent rearmament of Hezbollah. How can countries that don't think Israel should be there in the first place, be expected to protect it against Hezbollah attacks? Like Hezbollah, they think Israel is unjustly founded on stolen Palestinian land. Bangladesh imprisoned a writer
who is dedicated to improve ties between his country and Israel for this very reason, and the Malaysian prime minister said in a speech to the Islamic conference in 2003
"The enemy will probably welcome these proposals and we will conclude that the promoters are working for the enemy. But think. We are up against a people who think. They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, human rights and democracy so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.
Of late because of their power and their apparent success they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people will make mistakes, will forget to think.
They are already beginning to make mistakes. And they will make more mistakes. There may be windows of opportunity for us now and in the future. We must seize these opportunities."
And maybe this is one such opportunity, after Israel indeed made some bad mistakes.
Why are countries like Bangladesh and Malaysia so enthusiastic to join the UN force in Lebanon? How can they be part of a peace keeping force - that is supposed to be neutral - if they view Israel as an enemy that has to be fought?
To recall: the war was started because Hezbollah, a private militia, attacked a Lebanese neighbor without government consent after it built up a formidable rocket arsenal in the South against that same neighbor. As most countries don't like being rocketed and their soldiers being kidnapped, they might fight back. Resolution 1701
recalls previous UN resolutions that demand total disarmament of Hezbollah, but fails to outline who should do it and how it should be done. That was not out of slovenliness, but because it was the only way to get the Arab League and Lebanon to agree to this resolution.
The USA intends to bring another resolution
to the UN that will clarify the rules of engagement for the UN force in Lebanon. As this resolution probably should help to get more countries to contribute to the UN force, it is very doubtful if it will be more forceful on disarming Hezbollah. But let's never stop hoping, and Israel should use all diplomatic channels to get a stronger resolution. Meanwhile it has the right and duty to prevent rearmament of Hezbollah with weapons meant to kill its citizens.Ratna Pelle
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Replies: 1 Comment
When I was a child, living in Malaysia, I have always wondered why Israel + China were two countries printed on the national passport as countries illegal to visit. Later when China was lifted from the ban, Israel continues to be banned. It wasn't until much later, I begin to understand the root of the reason for the non diplomatic tie between Israel + Malaysia. The open hostility + hatred of the Malaysian government towards Israel could not be more shrill during the Islamic Conferences they hosted. I cannot see how governments like the Malaysian's, Bangladeshi's + Indonesian's can be impartial at all, given the blatant confession of their true sentiment. Their eagerness to sent troops for the UN force should make one sit up + think.
I should also like to know more about Syria's arm smuggling bid to re-arm Hezbola.
Soo Lin, Wednesday, August 23rd
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