UN, MAGIC WAND, AND MIDEAST WAR


08.08.06
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Marianna Belenkaya)

The UN Security Council is working on a resolution to end the Israeli-Hizbollah confrontation, but its efforts have come up against a wall of technical details and requirements put up by Israel and Lebanon.
In any event, can a compromise solution, even if the Council finds one, stabilize the situation in the Middle East and preclude a repetition of the massacre on the Lebanese-Israeli border?
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that Israel’s enemy is not Hizbollah but Iran, which is using the radical movement as its agent. Similar statements have also been made regarding Syria.
Israeli officials said the current military operation should change the situation in the Middle East, and Washington shares this opinion. In its view, the Israeli operation should weaken Hizbollah’s influence in Lebanon and deliver a heavy blow to Tehran’s standing in the region.
The legality of and reasoning behind such statements may be questionable, but the current crisis has apparently exceeded the boundaries of the Israeli-Hizbollah confrontation and calls for taking into account the situation in the whole of the Middle East. In fact, the problem cannot be resolved without the contribution of Syria and Iran.
So far, none of the UN draft resolutions have addressed the regional element of the conflict. The Security Council has been too busy trying to deal with Israeli and Lebanese complaints.
The situation looks hopeless, since the U.S.-French resolution does not suit either side in the conflict, especially Lebanon.
“A draft that is not suitable to Lebanon cannot be adopted, because it would only prolong the conflict and the violence,” said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN.
Indeed, it makes no sense to adopt a clearly worthless resolution.
The Russian diplomat had called on Lebanon to read the resolution carefully, since it contains many provisions that satisfy Lebanon’s demands, including a call for a ceasefire. Russia adjusted its stance when it saw that Beirut would not accept the resolution.
“The resolution provides for initiating a political process that will result in the withdrawal of Israeli troops, but one must carefully analyze it to see this,” Churkin said in response to Lebanese arguments. “Besides, the resolution does not offer a 100% guarantee that this will happen soon.”
However, revising the resolution may provoke the complaints of the Israeli government. And who can guarantee that this or any other resolution of the UN Security Council will be implemented in full? According to Churkin, diplomats wish they had a magic wand to please both sides.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz writes that Israelis are disappointed the draft resolution does not provide for the establishment and deployment of a multinational force in the conflict zone. The current draft says merely that a second resolution will be proposed at some later date to authorize deployment of such a force. This, said a senior government source, seems to indicate that “there won’t be an international force, because there will never be an agreement on it.”
“If they’re spitting blood over a declarative resolution [like the current one], just imagine what will happen when they get to a practical resolution,” he said. [quoted from Haaretz]
Indeed, there are no reasons to believe that the multinational force to be deployed in a buffer zone between Lebanon and Israel will be formed soon, and Israel refuses to pull out from Lebanon before it is.
In this complicated situation, the diplomats’ “magic wand” could be Beirut’s decision to deploy a 15,000-strong governmental force in the zone if the sides cease hostilities and Israel pulls out from southern Lebanon. Russia believes this could help resolve the conflict.
The Israeli prime minister said it was an interesting move that should be considered. Everything, however, hinges on its implementation.
Can Israel trust the Lebanese military to replace Hizbollah? What could their objective be? Is the Shiite movement really prepared to withdraw its militants from southern Lebanon? And will the multinational force help the Lebanese?
>From 1949 to 1969, Beirut honored a truce agreement with Israel. But this was before a civil war seriously weakened the Lebanese government, and before Hizbollah and other current international realities.
Will the UN resolution be effective, or will it follow in the wake of all other finely worded resolutions on the Middle East, the majority of which remained on paper while the situation became explosive again?
The UN Security Council has no patience for philosophizing about the future of the Middle East. Diplomats are working hard to stop the bloodshed. -0-