More work to do

Israel must make clear it has no intention of standing by as Resolution 1701 becomes a dead letter.

By
August 13, 2006 22:30
3 minute read.
tyre base 298.88

tyre base 298.88. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Shimon Peres, who has been through a war or two in his lifetime, said yesterday that now is not the time for either a "war of the generals" or a "war of the Jews" - as the post-war recriminations within the military and in the political sphere are called. He is right. Yesterday, some two dozen of our soldiers were buried. Tens of thousands of our soldiers remain in Lebanon, not to mention those who continue to fight against terrorists in Gaza and elsewhere. Yesterday, Hizbullah missiles continued to hit our northern towns and cities, and the wounded - soldiers and civilians - lay in our hospitals. With all this going on, the IDF is already claiming that it was ready to launch a ground offensive 10 days before it was authorized, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is claiming that he could not approve plans that were not presented to him. This needs to be sorted out, but now is not the time. Now is the time for our leaders to take full responsibility for their actions and what the public expected of them: the IDF to be prepared and the government to make the right decisions and to stick with them. Despite the UN resolution, fighting will continue in Lebanon for some time. It could be weeks before an international force, coupled with the Lebanese army, are ready to take Israel's place. There will be many diplomatic battles ahead, even after an international force is in place, to shape the post-war landscape in a way that builds upon, rather than squanders, the sacrifices and accomplishments of this war. The first battle will be to define UN Security Council Resolution 1701 itself. What, for example, does "offensive military operations" mean? What happens if Syria and Iran continue to ignore the equally binding embargo requiring "all states take the necessary measures to prevent... the sale or supply" of weaponry to "any entity or individual in Lebanon" not authorized by UNIFIL or the Lebanese government? As of yesterday, as has happened throughout the war, Syria is reportedly continuing to resupply Hizbullah with rockets and anti-tank missiles across the Syrian-Lebanese border. If Syria is ignoring this embargo, and Lebanon is ignoring its responsibility to control its border, and UNIFIL is either not yet in place or unwilling or incapable of stopping this flow of weaponry, then Israel should continue its efforts to physically interdict the flow of weapons from Syria and Iran to Hizbullah. The international community needs to understand that Israel will not repeat the mistake of standing by as Hizbullah rebuilds an arsenal of missiles and other sophisticated weaponry that can threaten us. If the Syrian-Lebanese border is too porous to seal, then either Israel has to do its best to fill the gap by force, or the UN Security Council has to enforce its resolution with sanctions against Syria and, if Teheran is also involved, Iran. In general, now is the time for Israel to make clear, through both words and actions, that it has no intention of standing by as Resolution 1701, like Resolution 1559 before it, becomes a dead letter - or worse, applies only to Israel and not to Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. It is exactly such a process that led to the current war, and that will lead to war again if it is allowed to happen again. Resolution 1701 reflects an international consensus that for Lebanon's and for Israel's sake, Syria and Iran must not be allowed to rebuild Hizbullah's state-within-a-state. The US and other countries behind the resolution know that if Syria pays no price for blatantly violating the resolution, then the chances that the resolution can be enforced by the Lebanese side are slim. Accordingly, it should not just be Israel that is announcing that the embargo against Hizbullah will be enforced, but the United States and France. Such demonstrations of seriousness will also bolster the hand of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, who stated today that there would be no arms besides those of his army and UNIFIL south of the Litani. We stand to gain more by holding the international community to a standard of success than if we assume it will repeat a discredited pattern of failure. If we succeed in changing the pattern, that would be the best outcome; if we do not, we will have laid the groundwork to take action ourselves.

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