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In the real world, it would make sense for Lebanon to make peace with Israel, as Israel and Lebanon really have no insoluble issues dividing them, and both would benefit immensely from peace. Not getting bombed or hit by rockets periodically is a sufficient benefit for most world leaders. In the Middle East world, peace between Lebanon and Israel can't happen apparently.


Not long ago, Lebanese PM Fuad Seniora said that Lebanon and Israel could make peace:


"I believe that if Israel uses all its senses and thinks wisely, I think it will be the opportunity," Siniora told reporters.

"The opportunity is how to convert what happened in Lebanon - the calamity that was inflicted on Lebanon - to make it an opportunity to move toward real peace," he said.


And Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said:


"If the Lebanese government continues this way and if Prime Minister Siniora continues with his efforts to bring about a change in Lebanon, I have no doubt that negotiations with Beirut would lead to formal relations.."


That's great. Before you get excited, consider what Fuad Seniora said today:


"Let it be clear, we are not seeking any agreement until there is just and comprehensive peace based on the Arab initiative," he said.


This was in response to PM Olmert's earlier statements, and the one he made today, stating that a cease-fire would be:

"a cornerstone to build a new reality between Israel and Lebanon."

Seniora isn't haviing any. Just to make sure everyone got the message, he also said:


Lebanon will be the last Arab country that could sign a peace agreement with Israel"

It would probably have to line up behind all the other Arab countries that want to be last.

This kills an old Israeli myth, and should kill a new anti-Israeli myth (but it will not). One of the cornerstones of Israeli foreign policy, a "bon mot" that was repeated often (I heard it first when I was about 12 years old) was "Lebanon will be the second Arab country to make peace with Israel." It seems it will not be the second country, nor apparently the third.

The new anti-Israeli myth that is getting hatched right now is that Israel is missing an opportunity for peace because of "inflexibility." There is little doubt that many will remember the optimistic hint of peace enshrined in the blogs of Andrew Sullivan and so many others, while it is very unlikely that people will remember the cold water thrown on this little fragile hope by Fuad Seniora. When the books get written by the usual people, they will say that Israel missed a real opportunity for peace with Lebanon.

Don't forget either, that Fuad Seniora represents the "fragile" Lebanese "democracy" that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is trying so hard to support. Perhaps if American and French support for Seniora was somewhat less unconditional, he might be a bit more inclined to make peace with Israel.

Ami Isseroff


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