Lebanon / UN 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
On July 19, a week after the war against Hizbullah began, the security cabinet defined the goals of the campaign as bringing about the release of the captured IDF soldiers, stopping Hizbullah rocket fire on the North, and advancing the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.
The parts of 1559 underlined in the decision were: the dismantling of all armed militias in Lebanon, including Hizbullah; the extension of Lebanon's sovereignty throughout the country; and the deployment of the Lebanese army along Israel's northern border.
Judged by these parameters, the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution could be seen as an achievement for Israel, if the relevant clauses are implemented. It could create a different reality in Lebanese.
The resolution does, as the security cabinet resolution spelled out, call for the unconditional release of the captured soldiers, and does not link that with the release of two Lebanese prisoners, including the terrorist Samir Kuntar, in Israeli jails; it does call for an end to Hizbullah attacks on Israel; and does reiterate implementation of 1559.
It goes even further, and establishes an enhanced UNIFIL force to help the Lebanese army clear a buffer zone from the northern border to the Litani River, and calls for an embargo - something not mentioned in the security cabinet decision - on rearming Hizbullah. It also calls for the deployment of the Lebanese army, with the assistance of UNIFIL, on the border with Syria to keep Hizbullah from being rearmed.
On paper, it looks good, but the key will be in its implementation. Will the international community ensure that this resolution, unlike 1559, is implemented? One major problem is the reliance, yet again, on UNIFIL. Granted, it's an enhanced UNIFIL, but this is an organization with which Israel has had a very rocky relationship in the past.
Israel wanted to take the international force out of UN hands, to keep the blue-helmeted troops from playing a significant role. But this failed, partly because countries were not lining up to send their soldiers to southern Lebanon to do something Israel has been unable to do - completely dismantle Hizbullah - and partly because Lebanon was more amenable to a UN force.
Still, on paper the resolution provides Israel with the basic goals the government spelled out, with the addition of a buffer zone to keep Hizbullah from coming anywhere close to the border.
If it is not implemented, what we all just experienced over the last month will be a bitter prelude to something even more difficult. That thought itself, however, may be enough to motivate the international community to take this resolution on Lebanon more seriously than previous ones.