Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lebanon's Peace Proposal

In a very strongly worded Washington Post editorial, 'End This Tragedy Now', Lebanon's prime minister Siniora condemns Israel's military actions, describes its ramifications on his country's people and infrastructure, calls for an international inquiry into the attacks, demands compensation and presents his seven point plan to the American public:

On July 25, at the international conference for Lebanon in Rome, I proposed a comprehensive seven-point plan to end the war. It was well received by the conference and got the unanimous and full backing of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, in which Hezbollah is represented, as well as of the speaker of parliament and a majority of parliamentary blocs. Representatives of diverse segments of Lebanese civil society have come out strongly in favor, as has the Islamic-Christian Summit, representing all the religious confessions, ensuring a broad national consensus and preserving our delicate social equilibrium.

The plan, which also received the full support of the 56 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, included an immediate, unconditional and comprehensive cease-fire and called for:

· The release of Lebanese and Israeli prisoners and detainees through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

· The withdrawal of the Israeli army behind the "blue line."

· A commitment from the U.N. Security Council to place the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hills areas under U.N. jurisdiction until border delineation and Lebanese sovereignty over them are fully settled. Further, Israel must surrender all maps of remaining land mines in southern Lebanon to the United Nations.

· Extension of the Lebanese government's authority over its territory through its legitimate armed forces, with no weapons or authority other than that of the Lebanese state, as stipulated in the Taif accord. We have indicated that the Lebanese armed forces are ready and able to deploy in southern Lebanon, alongside the U.N. forces there, the moment Israel pulls back to the international border.

· The supplementing of the U.N. international force operating in southern Lebanon and its enhancement in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operation, as needed, to undertake urgent humanitarian and relief work and guarantee stability and security in the south so that those who fled their homes can return.

· Action by the United Nations on the necessary measures to once again put into effect the 1949 armistice agreement signed by Lebanon and Israel and to ensure adherence to its provisions, as well as to explore possible amendments to or development of those provisions as necessary.

· The commitment of the international community to support Lebanon on all levels, including relief, reconstruction and development needs.

Contrast this plan with the current draft of the UN resolution now being discussed and you'll find that they're actually quite similar. So, what's the holdup? It's all about timing, logistics and the mandate of international troops.

Via Reuters:

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 9 (Reuters) - The United States and France were at odds on Wednesday over an Israeli troop withdrawal from Lebanon, further delaying a U.N. resolution that could lead to a cease-fire in the four-week war between Israel and Hizbollah.

Facing Arab criticism that the current U.S.-French draft resolution favored Israel, the two co-sponsors agreed to change their U.N. Security Council draft after Lebanon on Monday announced it would deploy 15,000 soldiers in the south.
Paris and Washington disagree on when an international peace force, expected to be led by France, should enter south Lebanon and when Israel should withdraw, officials from both countries said.
The United States and Israel back a multinational force able to take offensive action where necessary rather than merely act as observers, as the current U.N. contingent has done for the past 28 years.

France is considering beefing up the current U.N. peacekeeping force and giving it a stronger mandate. It would like to see Israel begin withdrawing when Lebanese troops move in. Washington insists this cannot happen before foreign soldiers arrive.

It seems John Bolton is trying to formulate a new coalition of the willing to go into Lebanon to wipe out Hezbollah instead of simply having a peacekeeping place in force. Of course, there would not be any US troops in that force since they're a) bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and b) likely to just be Hezbollah targets regardless of their role there. So, Bolton wants everybody else to go in and do Israel and the US's dirty work for them in the name of the Global War on Terrorism.

All I want to know is this: what's wrong with actually having an immediate ceasefire and UN observers who'd actually monitor peace in the area? Why is the US insisting on sending in a proxy army to do what Israel has failed to do so far?

As I noted earlier, Israel's Olmert has now said the escalation of troops being sent into southern Lebanon today is the beginning of what he sees as a 30 day military campaign. Where this arbitrary number of days comes from is beyond me. How can he predict that his IDF will wipe out Hezbollah in one month, especially considering its track record so far and considering that Olmert is not even a military man to begin with?

These stalling tactics at the UN by the US and Israel cannot go on indefinitely. Chirac has threatened to propose a new resolution on France's behalf if the current one fails and, no doubt, Russia, China and other member states on the Security Council will try to put immense pressure on Israel and the US to come up with a solution quickly since world opinion is not on the side of continuing this conflict indefinitely. The Arab League has already stated that it will not sit idley by while Lebanon continues to be destroyed.

So, while Bush, Bolton, Rice, Blair, Harper and Olmert work hard to move the world towards their vision of the so-called New Middle East, the rest of the world is running out of patience and the ramifications of that fact could be startling in ways not yet imagined by the neocon architects behind this disastrous path. If they truly wanted any form of peace, they would abandon their narrow vision and look to the broader situation in realistic terms that would not enable Israel to carry on this war in such a haphazard fashion. But, we've already seen how incredibly blind they can be to anything that might distort their shaky assumptions about how the Middle East actually works. See: War, Iraq. See also: flowers and candy.

There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.
- Kofi Annan

Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.
- Buddha (560-483 B.C.)

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