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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 9th, 2006 - 00:53:22

Lebanon is right to reject UN draft
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 9, 2006, 00:51

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For once I agree with George Bush. Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq the president branded the United Nations an irrelevant debating society. But he was only half right.

When the UN Security Council rallies around to support US/Israel interests its resolutions are held up as sacrosanct pearls of wisdom. When it does not, its pronouncements are written off with the sweep of an American veto.

In short, the UNSC has become ineffectual except as a tool to rubber-stamp US policy. This is hardly an insider secret.

Consequently it�s no surprise that the draft resolution to end hostilities being mooted by the US and France has been rejected by Lebanon as being heavily biased in Israel�s favor.

The Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri has referred to the proposed truce as �a scheme of discord� that solely �takes into account Israeli interests� and �encourages Tel Aviv to press on with its aggression against Lebanon."

On quick glance the draft may appear reasonable. But in reality it�s far removed from the sensible seven-point peace plan fielded by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora last month.

This is the broad outline of Siniora�s plan, agreed to by Hezbollah�s leadership:

  • The release of Lebanese and Israeli prisoners;

  • Israel�s withdrawal from Lebanese soil;

  • Shebaa Farms to be placed under temporary UN jurisdiction;

  • Lebanese authority to be extended throughout the country;

  • Israel to hand over maps showing its earlier placement of land mines;

  • A beefed up UNIFIL to maintain security at the border region;

  • The international community to help Lebanon with reconstruction.

When America�s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Siniora and his Cabinet in Beirut she rightly lauded the plan.

After all, both sides get their prisoners back as well as their territorial integrity and security. Its greatest strength is one of the protagonists Hezbollah has endorsed it.

Just days later Rice does a U-turn and backs the US-French effort that begins with citing past UNSC resolutions affirming the territorial integrity of Lebanon, but refrains from calling for the withdrawal of Israeli troops currently involved in decimating south Lebanese villages.

The draft then goes on to blame Hezbollah for deaths, injuries, damage to infrastructure and displaced persons due to its �attack on Israel� on July 12, 2006. It says nothing at all about Israel�s massively disproportionate response.

With regards to a prisoner exchange, the draft demands the unconditional release of Israeli prisoners but merely encourages efforts to settle the issue of Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.

Then rather than call for an unconditional immediate cease-fire, the draft incorporates �a full cessation of hostilities� whereby Hezbollah must cease all attacks. Israel, on the other hand, must stop all �offensive military operations."

�Offensive� is the operative word here. During the past weeks the Israeli military has displayed its skewed interpretation of the word �offensive� by raining bombs and missiles onto Red Cross ambulances, aid convoys, bunkers sheltering women and children as well as well as Syrian fruit pickers.

Under the plan, Israel would get to decide what was defensive and offensive, whereas Hezbollah would not.

In effect, Israel could continue bombing targets it perceived rightly or wrongly as threats to Israel such as a moving truck, while if Hezbollah retaliated it would be viewed as having violated the resolution.

Moreover, Israel would be perfectly placed to launch false flag operations and heap the blame on Hezbollah.

When it comes to the issue of Shebaa Farms, still occupied by Israel, the draft resolution does not ask Israel to return this land to Lebanon.

Instead, it calls for the international borders of Lebanon to be delineated, �especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shebaa Farms area."

Unlike the Siniora plan that calls for a Lebanese force to police the border with Israel in partnership with UNIFIL, the draft resolution envisions an international force doing the job. And while it does specify that said force be UN mandated, it does not elaborate further.

This ambiguity leaves the door wide open for the UN to mandate NATO, for instance, or, troops from countries sympathetic to US/Israeli interests, or, indeed, forces that include Israelis holding dual nationality.

All of these would be viewed by the Lebanese as occupiers and would soon become Hezbollah targets.

Most worrisome from Lebanon�s perspective are the draft�s demands concerning the disarming of Hezbollah, which the �international force� would be mandated to ensure under Chapter Seven.

This is nothing short of a recipe for civil war.

You don�t have to be psychic to know that if the Lebanese Army aligned with an international force attempted to disarm an unwilling Hezbollah there would be not only bloodshed but also major sectarian divisions throughout the entire country.

Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, has denounced the draft resolution and complained that double standard are �killing the people of this region and agitating them."

In the meantime, the Israeli leadership is laughing up its collective sleeve while saying nothing officially.

As Aluf Benn of the Israeli daily Ha�aretz so succinctly puts it, �demonstrated Israeli enthusiasm for the draft could influence support among Security Council members, who could demand a change in wording that may adversely affect Israel.�

Benn indicates that Israeli officials from the Israeli prime minister�s chief of staff to his foreign minister, who �flew to New York to take part in talks conducted at the UN," were heavily involved with conceptualizing the draft. The Lebanese were left completely out of the loop.

In the meantime the killing goes on with the conflict in danger of spreading. On Sunday, while visiting the Lebanese town of Tripoli the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told reporters �Regional war is welcomed."

If the US and Israel drag their heels further in an attempt to be seen as having triumphed in their trumped up �war on terror," the welcome mat for a full scale regional war or even World War III will be irrevocably and tragically laid out.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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