kfar giladi 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Yesterday a single Hizbullah rocket killed 12 Israelis, most of them reserve soldiers with families they had left behind when they went off to fight the war. Their deaths - compounded by the terrible nightfall rocket assault on Haifa that followed a few hours later - accentuate the unacceptability of a hasty diplomatic arrangement which will, in a short time, result in a return to living under the threat of missile attacks from an Iranian-controlled terrorist army.
In historic terms, the US-French draft UN Security Council resolution might be considered an accomplishment. We are used, after all, to the UN failing to act against anti-Israel aggression, then rushing to save those who attack us from our response. This time it is somewhat different, but too much of the old pattern remains.
The US and France, to their credit, are not assuming that Lebanon will carry out its obligations to deploy its army southward and disarm Hizbullah, as was expected after Israel withdrew unilaterally from southern Lebanon in 2000. Now we have returned to the same security zone we withdrew from then, and there is international consensus that when Israel withdraws this time, conditions must be created so we should not have to come back.
This time, the resolution anticipates an international force that will help the Lebanese army remove Hizbullah from below the Litani River and police the Lebanese-Syrian border to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah. The resolution would also require other countries not to supply arms to Hizbullah, thereby laying the groundwork for sanctions against Syria and Iran if they continue to do so.
It is also considered an accomplishment that Hizbullah is clearly blamed for starting the war on July 12 and is required to cease all attacks and unconditionally return our kidnapped soldiers, while Israel is only required to cease "offensive" operations. Further, Israel is not required to leave its reestablished security zone, presumably until the Lebanese army and an international force are ready to take our place.
All of this may be light-years ahead of previous lopsided resolutions that effectively encouraged further aggression. This one at least not only recognizes such a danger, but is constructed to prevent it. But is it constructed well enough?
The draft resolution's first major flaw is that, while couched in symmetrical or even terms leaning in Israel's favor, it still effectively imposes a cease-fire that, over the long term, could preserve Hizbullah more than it protects Israel. Why should Israel, the recognized victim of Hizbullah's aggression, be forced to stop disarming Hizbullah when this is the central requirement for long-term peace and stability?
Do the US and France believe that either the Lebanese army or an international force will go from village to village and disarm Hizbullah guerrillas and destroy remaining Hizbullah bunkers? If they do not, they should not be trying to stop Israel from doing so. This is particularly true south of the Litani, where the resolution envisions establishing a no-militia zone on an urgent basis.
France insisted that a cease-fire be in place some time before it sends in troops to enforce the UN's resolution. This is reasonable. What's not reasonable, even from the French perspective, is attempting to impose such a cease-fire with artificial speed, so that Hizbullah is still in a position to dictate terms, making the job of the international force that much more difficult.
In addition, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold argues that the Israeli effort to make such an international force "robust" - by giving it the right to engage in offensive actions through a binding Chapter 7 mandate - could backfire. Such a force might have the right mandate, but could fail to seal the long and porous Lebanese-Syrian border and fail to dismantle Hizbullah's armed infrastructure.
Despite such failures, such a resolution could prevent Israel from acting itself against a new buildup, even from the air. Gold argues for a less "robust," but less binding force under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, which would essentially create a greater reliance on Israeli deterrence to ensure Lebanese compliance.
If Israel stops too short or too soon on the battlefield, or accepts a fundamentally flawed arrangement, the cost will be immeasurably higher than insisting now on obtaining the international claims it is aiming for: a permanent end to Hizbullah's ability to threaten Israel and subvert Lebanon.