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Various cease fire proposals under consideration in ME
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, August 08, 2006

President Bush has rejected a call for an immediate Israeli pull out in southern Lebanon saying that any plan must avoid a "vacuum" which will allow Hezbollah to again establish itself in the area:
"We will work with our partners to get the resolution laid down as quickly as possible," Mr. Bush said, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at his side. But, he added, "Whatever happens in the U.N., we must not create a vacuum into which Hezbollah and its sponsors are able to move more weapons."

"Sometimes, the world likes to take the easy route in order to solve a problem. Our view is, it's time to address the root causes of problems, and to create a vacuum ... is unacceptable," he said.
Well, a cease fire and getting someone between the two combtants is what is needed and that isn't going to address any 'root causes'. It's going to deny the side which started this the ability to continue it and it will deny the side that responded the need to further respond.

Some things being floated as a short-term solution to filling that "vacuum" include a muscular international peacekeeping force made up of combat units to keep the sides apart. But that doesn't address the "root causes" either.

Another proposal in play is to deploy the Lebanese army in the area. But unless they disarm Hezbollah or are willing to prevent Hezbollah from rearming and reestablishing their presence and positions in the south, all that is accomplished is a firm basis for holding Lebanon responsible for any future attacks. And, of course, I'm naturally skeptical of any proposal that Hezbollah finds acceptable.
The Lebanese cabinet agreed Monday night to deploy troops in the south after an Israel Defense Forces' withdrawal from the area, in a decision supported by all the ministers present, including the five Shi'ite ministers who represent Hezbollah and Amal.

"I heard about the Lebanese government decision yesterday to deploy 15,000 Lebanese Army soldiers," [Israeli PM] Olmert told a news conference."This decision is an interesting step which we have to study and examine and look at all the implications - to see to what degree it is practical and in what timeframe," the prime minister said.

"The faster we leave south Lebanon, the happier we will be, especially if we have achieved our goals," he added.

He said that any Lebanese Army deployment in the south should be accompanied by a strong international force made up of combat units and that Hezbollah must be disarmed.
So there are the negotiating positions.

Israel: We want to leave and are interested in Lebanon deploying its army in the south of its country, but we must be assured Hezbollah is disarmed as a part of any cease fire and we insist that international troops also be a part of the solution.

Lebanon: We'll handle it ourselves, internally, with our army.

Says Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi al-Arid, "Our objective is to bring about a cease-fire and emphasize Lebanon's right to its land and sovereignty."
He stressed that the decision was taken as part of Lebanon's efforts to demonstrate a willingness to make progress toward a resolution of the crisis and the implementation of the seven-point plan approved by the Lebanese government.

The plan calls for an Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the Shaba Farms area, a prisoner exchange deal and a state monopoly on the use of weapons in its territory.
All of those things are probably acceptable to Israel, especially the last point. It would accomplish two very critical things necessary as far as Israel is concerned. First it would require Lebanon disarm Hezbollah. A "state monopoly" on the use of weapons can be interpreted no other way. Secondly, it puts the onus and responsibility for controlling Hezbollah and stopping future attacks or incursions into Israel firmly where it belongs ... on the government of Lebanon. If Hezbollah again strikes Israel in the future, Lebanon can't claim innocence as it has this time.

That's why PM Olmert calls this plan "interesting" and worthy of "study". The fact that Hezbollah is interested in a plan which would effectively disarm it says volumes out how they've fared in the recent battles in south Lebanon.

The only thing I'd insist on, if I were Olmert is some level of international involvement in the cease-fire effort and, at least initially, in the peace-keeping side of things. I'd want independent verification that this isn't all a sham or beyond the capability (or will) of Lebanon's army and government is critical to ensuring a lasting peace.

But make no mistake about it, in the final analysis a strong and democratic Lebanese government is more to the advantage of Israel than it is to Hezbollah and its supporters.

UPDATE: The Washington Post, otoh, is reporting that the "overture" above has been "rejected" by Israel:
Israel dismissed the overture as it intensified airstrikes on targets throughout Lebanon, insisting that its troops will retain their positions in the south until an international force capable of halting Hezbollah missile strikes into Israel is in place. But diplomatic efforts stalled at the United Nations on Monday, after Lebanon and Arab League members objected to a draft resolution on a cease-fire.
The cite above, in the main body of the post, is from Haaretz (updated 14:52 08/08/2006), an Israeli news source. I think I'll go with the Haaretz version for the time being.

UPDATE II: The proposal from Arab countries is essentially a return to the previous situation:
Arab countries say the Israelis should hand control of southern Lebanon immediately to the 1,990 soldiers of the UN's Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which the world body dispatched in 1978 in the wake of attacks by Palestinian militants on northern Israel. UNIFIL would then hand control to the Lebanese army.
Consider that UNIFIL (that's United Nations INTERIM Force In Lebanon ... interim? 28 years is "interim"?). For 28 years it has accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of "peace keeping". Nothing. So one can imagine the Israeli reponse to that suggestion, especially given who is making it.
But neither the Lebanese army nor UNIFIL has ever been able to stand up to Hezbollah, which emerged with Iranian and Syrian help after the Israelis invaded Lebanon in 1982 to stop Palestinian attacks that had continued despite the UNIFIL presence.
Herein lies the problem for negotiators. While everyone agrees it would be best if Lebanon took control of its own territory, to this point, it has shown no ability (or will) to do so. That is why, as I point out above, Israel must (and will) insist on others (besides UNIFIL) be involved in any cease-fire and withdrawal plan. Unless it is convinced that Hezbollah will be confronted and disarmed by someone, it isn't going to agree to a cease-fire. And I don't blame them.
 
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McQ;
While everyone agrees it would be best if Lebanon took control of its own territory, to this point, it has shown no ability (or will) to do so.
I have read that the West essentially reneged on its promises to assist the Lebanese government after Syria withdrew. Do you agree with that assertion? If so, perhaps one approach might be to help strengthen the Lebanese government to the point that it can replace what Hezbollah has to offer in terms of security, basic services, etc. I imagine that undermining Hezbollah’s appeal by replacing it with a more stable and less provocative source of sustenance would be a more promising path than attempting to destroy Hezbollah or fantastically insisting that the Lebanese government disarm a militia group that it probably more powerful than it is itself. For the short term — and with the longer goal in mind — perhaps deploying the Lebanese army in conjunction with a U.N security force might be successful. At least, it will stop the killing and destruction which, I fear, does no one good, least of all the U.S.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
I have read that the West essentially reneged on its promises to assist the Lebanese government after Syria withdrew. Do you agree with that assertion?
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, David.
If so, perhaps one approach might be to help strengthen the Lebanese government to the point that it can replace what Hezbollah has to offer in terms of security, basic services, etc.
Well I know one of the proposals out there from the US is to help train the Lebanese army and get it to a level in which it can indeed control its own territory. I think that’s a reasonable proposal. And that would work toward the goal you are talking about. But it is going to also require the government, on the civil side, take more control in the south as well. Apparently, from what I read, it has all but ceded the south of Lebanon to Hezbollah.
For the short term — and with the longer goal in mind — perhaps deploying the Lebanese army in conjunction with a U.N security force might be successful.
Only if it is a UN security force with teeth and a charter to disarm Hezbollah and prevent it from attacking Israel. Without that, it’s a wasted effort.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well I know one of the proposals out there from the US is to help train the Lebanese army and get it to a level in which it can indeed control its own territory. I think that’s a reasonable proposal. And that would work toward the goal you are talking about. But it is going to also require the government, on the civil side, take more control in the south as well.
Shouldn’t a condition be Hezbollah’s political disarming as well? I’m not very comfortable with the idea of helping the Lebanese army improve as long as Hezbollah is an influential part of their Govt- either elected or unelected.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
How is Maine involved in all this? Oh, never mind.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Shouldn’t a condition be Hezbollah’s political disarming as well? I’m not very comfortable with the idea of helping the Lebanese army improve as long as Hezbollah is an influential part of their Govt- either elected or unelected.
How would that work aside from disenfranchisement? Ban the party? Even if they took that lying down, next they start a new party. "Party of something other than God"
 
Written By: ozymandias
URL: http://
Verify. Verify. Verify. No plan will work unless unless there are impartial observers to see to it that Hizbullah is kept out of the process, militarily or financially. This is also why there will be no cease fire in the near future.
 
Written By: equitus
URL: http://
I have a modest proposal, the Jooooos, I mean the Zionists, I mean the Israelis withdraw from Lebanon, in fact they withdraw to NYC. Into the de-militarized zone thus created I recommend an International Force to keep the Peace. Preferably one created out of the Forces of Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and the Pasdaran. It is a long-lasting formula for Peace.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Moving Israel to Miami, Brooklyn, NYC, or Hollywood will bring World Peace. Israel is now just a 58 year-old malignant tumor growing on Palestine.
 
Written By: coin
URL: http://

 
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