Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hizballah wants "all" Israeli soldiers out of Lebanon, so do I. 

Of course I want all Israeli soldiers out of Lebanon, after the conditions for a durable peace are created, and the word "all" must be properly defined.

A Hizballah cabinet minister has apparently made the Lebanese "government's" latest cease-fire demands of Israel:

Hizbollah leaders have sworn to fight as long as Israeli soldiers remain on Lebanese soil. At least 10,000 Israeli troops are inside Lebanon trying to dislodge Hizbollah fighters from the border and stop them firing rockets into Israel.
Make that at least 10,002 if you count kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who are trying simply not to be dead.

Hizbollah cabinet minister Mohammed Fneish said the guerrilla group would stop fighting when Israel ended its bombardment of Lebanon and withdrew its troops.

"Israel is the aggressor. When the Israeli aggression stops, Hizbollah simply will cease fire on the condition that no Israeli soldier remains inside Lebanese land," he said.
Fantastic, a Hizballah cabinet minister is calling the shots for the Lebanese people. I hope Prime Minister Fuad Siniora can somehow be persuaded to eventually risk asserting his own sovereignty since the UN's upcoming resolution seems to depend on it -- perhaps the UN can encourage his courage by supplying him Rafik Hariri's travel maps so he can avoid traveling the same dangerous routes. The problem here is that having a Hizballah cabinet member publically setting Lebanese military policy from a position within the government doesn't exactly inspire confidence in many of the detailed terms of this looming resolution:

- Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory ...
I'd be more impressed with this diplospeak if Hizballah cabinet ministers weren't already making grand pronouncements as if Hizballah already is the government of Lebanon.

- security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani River of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed and security forces and of UN-mandated international forces deployed in this area;
Of course once Hizballah's self-definition as the Lebanese government is sufficiently swallowed, those Hizballah arms should be much easier to ignore, which should also be convenient for the all-important international forces who really have no interest in waking up one morning in bed next to a ticking truck bomb.

- ... the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;
NOTE: see previous two points. I know this is silly, but if the goal is to prevent Hizballah from firing rockets at Israel, would it be so crazy to maybe mention Hizballah by name here? As it is, all we need is Hizballah's emergency definition of its own forces as the state's protectors and this passage is immediately worthless (or worthlesser, since it's already written on see-through recycled UN paper). As the lines are quickly blurred between Hizballah and the government it has hijacked, don't look for the UN to interfere in "internal Lebanese issues" when Hizballah claims to carry arms on behalf of and with the consent of the state.

- establishment of an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;

Hmmm, now let's see. It sounds so good and reasonable... how could this one possiby go wrong?

- elimination of foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government ...
Anyone remember Syria's decades-long occupation of Lebanon, an occupation enforced with the complicity of Lebanon's puppet government? Does anyone really expect it will take more than a Hizballah cabinet meeting to put that consent back in place? I know UN resolutions can't exist without vague, easily evaded wording, but would it be so hard to make this clause's exceptions contingent not on what is essentially Hizballah's own rubber stamp, but instead on Israeli agreement since Israelis are the ones who will be absorbing the missile shots from those foreign forces? All these wiggle words and cop-out clauses are blinking bright red already, like pre-installed UN exit signs awaiting that inevitable moment when Nasrallah stands up in this crowded theatre and yells "fire!"

- Requests UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon), upon cessation of hostilities, to monitor its implementation and to extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the safe return of displaced persons;
This clause was added just to make sure Israel can't claim not to have been warned this whole exercise was a joke. UNIFIL -- the UN force under whose nose Hizballah's present 10,000 missiles were installed -- will be allowed to continue its mandate to unpack the next 10,000 Iranian missile crates, which is the pinnacle of UN hilarity.

Given that a Hizballah member in the cabinet is already making declarations regarding Lebanon's relationship with its neighbor, it's not hard to picture exactly how this UN resolution is going to crumble in the weeks following its implementation. Hizballah can BE the Lebanese government, if the question is left for the UN to dither over. Forget the intent; plot the effect.

Meanwhile, the Hizballah cabinet minister's offer isn't actually so far off from Israel's own demands, with at least the following exception: all Israeli soldiers must not only leave Lebanese land but must specifically return to Israel, not Syria or Iran. Because before I take any Hizballah cabinet member's cease fire plans seriously, I count kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, as well as Ron Arad missing 20 years before them, as soldiers who must return to Israel from Lebanon.

Sending them to Iran doesn't count.


Well that was quick, and what do I know anyway? I guess I'm the only one who is skeptical about these terms, since the Israeli government is now agreeing to let UNIFIL oversee implementation of the cease fire, at least until "after Israel and Lebanon reach agreement on the principles of a long-term accord." And how long could that possibly take -- depending on who's doing the agreeing for Lebanon? In the meantime, rest assured, "Israel received assurances through diplomatic channels that UNIFIL will be bolstered by quality troops from France." I really don't know what to say, other than this sounds like one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, and I'm tempted to check whether I'm reading the Onion instead of Haaretz.

And despite Israel's hasty, Onion-worthy capitulation on the terms as presented so far, apparently Hizballah isn't ready to accept them yet. I guess Nasrallah is holding out for a phased schedule of Israel's destruction to be attached as an addendum before they're willing to put their name on a document with Zionist signatures.

I can only hope this little section is an accidental result of how the report was written, rather than an accurate reflection of Lebanon's objections:

"Lebanon does not agree with the draft UN resolution to end the war," the source said.

The resolution calls for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, but would allow Israel to defend itself if attacked, officials said.
This is getting ridiculous.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: