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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the man to watch these days. And yet it would seem that those in positions of power are paying him little heed.
Ahmadinejad, whose proxy army Hizbullah is now waging war against Israel, has promised to respond to European and American demands to cease his country's illicit nuclear programs on August 22. As Robert Spencer, a noted expert on Islam, has explained, August 22 corresponds with the 27th of Rajab on the Muslim calendar. According to Islamic tradition, that is the day after Muhammad made his nighttime journey to Jerusalem and then flew to heaven from the Temple Mount, lighting up the skies over the holy city in his wake.
This week the UN Security Council is supposed to pass a resolution giving Iran until August 31 to end its nuclear programs. The obvious meaning of the new deadline is that until then, in spite of Iran's direction of Hizbullah's war against Israel - a state which Iran daily threatens to destroy - no action will be taken against Teheran.
Indeed, in all the talk of Security Council resolutions regarding the war that Iran's proxy force Hizbullah is waging against Israel, no one has mentioned the possibility of condemning Iran, or Syria, for their sponsorship of Hizbullah.
AS THE STAKES of the war against Israel rise by the day, we find the international community, led by the US, and willingly followed by the Olmert government, scope-locked on a diplomatic agenda that is irrelevant to the imminent dangers Israel and the world now face in the midst of this Iranian sponsored jihad.
Indeed, it is worse than irrelevant. It is counterproductive.
For if the aims of the ongoing diplomatic blitzkrieg are all met, Israel will find itself denied its right to self-defense; with its legal right to secure and recognized borders in tatters; and with Hizbullah sitting pretty behind a protective shield of the Lebanese military and an international force that will not attack it.
On Wednesday the UN Security Council will vote to approve a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that will mandate a cease-fire and the establishment and deployment of a multinational force to Lebanon. The tasks of the proposed force will be to man a buffer zone in southern Lebanon; enable the deployment of the Lebanese army along the border with Israel; and control Lebanon's international border with Syria.
The purpose of the force is to prevent Hizbullah from attacking Israel and to cut it off from its logistical base in Syria while barring Israel from continuing the fight.
THERE ARE several basic problems with this approach. First, Chapter VII resolutions are the only UN resolutions that enable the Security Council to use force and other coercive tools against UN member states. Any state breaching them is considered an international lawbreaker.
Israel's enemies have for decades sought to have Israel come under the authority of Chapter VII resolutions, but the US has blocked all such attempts, understanding that they are aimed at denying Israel the right to defend itself.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her colleagues claim that the proposed multinational force would protect Israel. Yet it is already clear that this will not be the case. As things now stand, the proposed force will be led by France. Indonesia and Turkey have reportedly offered to participate. With France leading the international community in condemning Israel for defending itself; with some 40 percent of Indonesians telling pollsters that they wish to participate in jihad; and with Turkey led by an Islamist government, can anyone believe that this force will neutralize Hizbullah? None of these countries even accept that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization.
OBVIOUSLY this force will not fight Hizbullah. But it will prevent Israel from attacking Hizbullah. And given that the force is to be mandated under a Chapter VII resolution, were Israel to take independent measures to defend itself, it would immediately become an outlaw state open to arms embargoes and other sanctions.
Moreover, the planned multinational force is supposed to facilitate the Lebanese army's deployment along the Lebanese border with Israel. This is supposed to be a good thing. Yet, since the outbreak of the war, the Lebanese army has been actively fighting with Hizbullah. Its radars have been used to lock in Israeli targets for Hizbullah missile crews. It is paying pensions to the families of fallen Hizbullah fighters. On Sunday its soldiers reportedly shot at IDF helicopters in the Bekaa Valley.But. to date, the US-led international community refuses to recognize the Lebanese army as a combatant, and similarly insists that the aim of the postwar settlement should be to strengthen both the Lebanese government that includes Hizbullah and the Lebanese army that fights by Hizbullah's side.
IN HER discussions with Israeli leaders, Rice has proposed that in the framework of a settlement of the current crisis, Israel give Mt. Dov on the Golan Heights to Lebanon. There has been almost no public debate about the reasonableness of the US position. Yet even the most superficial analysis makes it clear that such a move would be catastrophic for Israel's long-term viability.
Mt. Dov, which Hizbullah refers to as the Shaba Farms, is not and has never been Lebanese territory. In 2000, following Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, the UN certified that Israel had removed itself from all Lebanese territory.
The UN further confirmed that Mt. Dov was territory Israel wrested from Syria during the course of the 1967 Six Day War. The UN stated that the fate of the territory would be determined in the course of negotiations toward a peace treaty between Israel and Syria.
Hizbullah cut the Lebanese territorial claim to Mt. Dov out of whole cloth as a pretext for continuing its war against Israel after Israel left Lebanon. Its claim that Mt. Dov is Lebanese territory has been rejected by the international community. Yet today, the US is prodding Israel to give Mt. Dov to Lebanon as a confidence-building gesture toward the Lebanese government, which of course supports Hizbullah's demand. By adopting this Hizbullah demand, the US is breaching the decades-old foundation of the Law of Nations, which stipulates that states cannot win territory from other states through armed aggression.
ADDITIONALLY, by supporting Hizbullah's demand, the US is in effect suing for a Hizbullah victory in this war. Hizbullah has never demanded Mt. Dov for itself. It demands the vast territory that connects the Syrian Golan to the Upper Galilee for Lebanon. And the Lebanese government, which the US seeks to strengthen, supports this Hizbullah demand just as it supports all of Hizbullah's demands. If Lebanon receives the territory, Hizbullah will be the clear victor in this war.
Moreover, by even suggesting that Israel consider giving Mt. Dov to Lebanon, the US is undermining the very notion that Israel has a right to recognized borders. If after Israel removed itself to the international border Lebanon can receive support for additional territorial claims against Israel, that means there is no line to which Israel can remove itself in the Golan, or in Jerusalem, or in Judea and Samaria or Gaza and safely assume that its borders will be recognized by the rest of the world.
In short, by backing Lebanese claims to Mt. Dov, the US is paving the way for future territorial claims for West Jerusalem, the Galilee, Haifa, indeed for all of Israel.
Israel will never be able to trust that any peace treaty it signs is final. An act of aggression by its enemies may pave the way for additional claims, which in the interests of strengthening the Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, or Syrian governments the international community is liable to support.
IT WOULD seem that, in spite of themselves, both the US and the Israeli government have managed to maneuver themselves into diplomatic positions that undermine their own national interests. Somehow, between the US's early and misguided decision to ignore the Lebanese government's support and responsibility for Hizbullah and the Olmert government's clearly halfhearted prosecution of the war, both governments have gotten lost. The goals that now form the basis of their diplomatic agendas serve only to advance the interests of their enemies.
A clear break from the current path must be made immediately. Ahmadinejad is looking on and laughing.