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Israel Rejects UN Peacekeepers: Who Will Police the Police PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Wednesday, 26 July 2006 11:54
Israel Rejects UN Peacekeepers: Who Will Police the Police

AG
- Patrick Seale - Having ignored the war for two weeks, Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, has at last this week visited Lebanon and Israel, and has attended a meeting of the Lebanon contact group in Rome. Regrettably, at all these stops she has done almost everything wrong. This is not entirely her fault. She is the servant of a profoundly misguided American foreign policy.

www.agenceglobal.com

Illustrated by the fact that the United States is rushing bombs and jet fuel to Israel, and  $30 million in humanitarian aid to the Lebanese victims of those same jets and bombs, the Bush-Rice foreign policy is misguided and disgraceful.

Condoleezza's Doomed Diplomacy

Patrick Seale

Agence Global
July 26, 2006

Copyright ? 2006 Patrick Seale
[Republished at PEJ News with permission of AG]

Her first -- and most important -- mistake was not to insist on an immediate ceasefire. She is waiting, she says, for conditions to be "conducive." A ceasefire would be pointless, she argues, if it merely restored the status quo ante of an Israeli-Hizballah confrontation. Her aim, she explained, was to bring about a fundamental improvement in Israel's environment -- to create a "new, democratic Middle East." This, of course, is pure Israel-speak, and pure fantasy.

So long as the United States concerns itself only with Israel's security and ignores the interests of the Arab parties to the conflict, Condoleezza Rice's efforts will be doomed to failure.

Her second mistake was her failure to invite Hizballah, Syria and Iran to the Rome meeting. How could she hope to strike a deal if the parties on one side of the conflict were absent? (Israel was also absent, but her interests were amply represented by the United States.) The answer is that Dr. Rice has no interest in striking a deal or mediating a settlement. She wants to impose terms on Israel's enemies -- or allow Israel to do so.

Nothing better illustrates the fundamental contradictions of U.S. policy than the fact that it is rushing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of precision bombs and aviation fuel to Israel, while at the same time sending the stricken Lebanese population $30m of humanitarian aid.

In Beirut, Rice shed crocodile tears over the death of more than 350 Lebanese, mainly civilians, the wounding of thousands more and the forcible displacement from their shattered villages and homes of a further 700,000 or 800,000. In Israel, she did not demur when Prime Minister Olmert vowed to continue his murderous onslaught. That alone condemns her in the eyes of much of the world.

Rice's declared goals are to secure the release of the two captured Israeli soldiers, disarm Hizballah and force it back some 20 kilometres from the Israel border, and then put in place an international force to prevent any further rocket attacks against Israel. These are unrealistic objectives, because they give Hizballah and its backers no reason to comply.

Rice might have been more successful if her goals had been more balanced. For example, she could have a) called for a truce, that is to say a suspension of military operations by both sides, to allow help to reach the hard-pressed Lebanese population; b) insisted on an exchange of prisoners (including some Lebanese prisoners who have been held in Israeli jails for nearly 30 years); and, c) required Hizballah to withdraw from the immediate border area in exchange for an Israel withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms, an enclave of Lebanese territory occupied since 1967. These moves could have laid the groundwork for a more permanent ceasefire.

Rice's third mistake was her attempt to rustle up an international force to disarm Hizballah. This is an absurdity. If a peace-keeping force is deployed solely to protect Israel, it will immediately be attacked by Hizballah. No state would wish to expose its troops in this way.

If, however, the proposed international force is given a peace-enforcement mandate, and not a mere peace-keeping one, it will need to have the capability to deter Israel as well as Hizballah. Would it be able to prevent Israeli incursions, kidnappings and targeted assassinations, as have happened so often in the past? Would it hunt down the scores of Israeli agents in Lebanon, such as the assassination cell which was recently uncovered by the Lebanese authorities and charged with several murders?

Would it be able to shoot down Israeli aircraft over-flying Lebanon on reconnaissance or combat missions, as they have done on a regular basis for much of the past 40 years? If the answer is "no" to these questions, then the idea of an international force had better be abandoned.

Condoleezza Rice is in the unfortunate position of having inherited a deeply flawed U.S. policy. She does not seem to have the understanding, the authority or the inclination to change course.

Apart from numerous smaller-scale aggressions, Israel first invaded Lebanon in 1978. President Jimmy Carter ordered Israel out. It complied, but not before it had set up a security zone controlled by a proxy force. In 1982, Israel invaded again, killing some 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, and bombarding Beirut. Rather than ordering the Israelis out as Carter had done, President Ronald Reagan decided to negotiate their withdrawal. As a result, with American complicity, Israel remained in occupation of some 10 per cent of Lebanese territory until driven out by Hizballah guerrillas in 2000.

Allowing Israel to remain in south Lebanon for 22 years was a major American blunder. Hizballah was a direct product of that policy. With America's blessing, Israel's Defence Minister Amir Peretz now intends to establish yet another free-fire security zone on Lebanese territory. Predictably, Hizballah's leader, Shaikh Hasan Nasrallah, has vowed to launch his guerrillas against it. This is a recipe for continued conflict.

Someone should explain to Dr. Rice that Hizbullah is not a terrorist organization. It is a resistance movement which managed to liberate Lebanese territory from Israeli occupation and which is dedicated to protecting the Shia population of south Lebanon from Israeli aggression. Since the Lebanese state is incapable of defending itself, Hizballah will give up its weapons only when there is no further threat from Israel.

A second -- and even greater -- U.S. blunder was to allow Israel to occupy and illegally settle the West Bank and Gaza over the past 39 years. The Islamic resistance movement Hamas is a direct product of this policy. The conflicts in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories are inextricably linked. Israel cannot kill Palestinians on one front -- as it is continuing to do at the rate of ten or fifteen a day -- and expect the Lebanese front to be quiet.

A third American blunder was to allow Israel to remain in occupation of Syria's Golan Heights since the Six Day War, and to establish illegal settlements there. At a summit meeting with the late Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad in March 2000, President Bill Clinton came close to negotiating a deal for an Israeli withdrawal. But, influenced by biased advisers such as Dennis Ross (now showing his true colours at the pro-Israeli Washington Institute) Clinton failed to pressure Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak to make a full withdrawal, and the deal collapsed.

Syria's opposition to U.S. and Israeli policy and its alliance with Iran are a direct result of America's failure to resolve the Israeli-Syrian conflict on a basis of justice and equity.

Syria's priority is to recover the Golan, but it also has vital interests in Lebanon. A central principle of its foreign policy is to prevent a hostile power -- and Israel in particular -- from establishing itself in Lebanon, as this would constitute a deadly threat to its national security. The United States attempted to do just that in 1983, but was defeated by Syria and its local allies. Now it is trying the same failed policy again.

By seeking to expel every vestige of Syrian influence from Lebanon, while tolerating, even encouraging, Israel to destroy the country, the United States seems to want to draw a broken and submissive Lebanon into Israel's sphere of influence. Syria will, again, do everything it can to prevent it.

Condoleezza Rice says she wants to secure implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarmament of Hizballah. But what of Security Council Resolution 242 passed after the 1967 war, which proclaimed the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war? Most of the regions current problems -- including the anger, violence, armed resistance and terrorism -- flow from America's failure to ensure the implementation of that Resolution.

Urgently required is an American effort to resolve the various conflicts which plague the Middle East, not simply to paper them over to Israel's advantage. Condoleezza Rice says that she wants a peace "based on enduring principles and not on temporary solutions." This is an admirable objective provided the principles are the right ones.


Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East, and the author of The Struggle for Syria; also, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East; and Abu Nidal: A Gun for Hire.

Copyright ? 2006 Patrick Seale

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Released: 27 July 2006
Word Count: 1,398
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Advisory Release: 27 July 2006
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Agence Global is the exclusive syndication agency for The Nation,The American Prospect, and Le Monde diplomatique, as well as expert commentary by William Beeman, Richard Bulliet, Juan Cole, Mark Hertsgaard, Rami G. Khouri, Tom Porteous, Patrick Seale and Immanuel Wallerstein.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 July 2006 11:54
 

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