Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

How to stop another war

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Tzvi Fleischer  

Herald-Sun - August 21, 2006  

WITH the smoke still clearing from Lebanon and northern Israel, the crucial question is whether the post-war resolution will remove the sources of the violence.  

Otherwise, the world will witness a similar round of conflict in another few months or years, with all the suffering that will entail.  

The answer very much depends on the will of the international community to carry through its own decision in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which passed unanimously on August 11.  

The problem will be finding the mechanisms, resources and, most importantly, the international will to see it implemented.  

It should be remembered that the UN passed a similar resolution in 2004. Resolution 1559 called for the disarming of Hezbollah and the deployment of Lebanon's army along the border.  

This would have prevented the current conflict, but it was never implemented.  

What Israel wants is simple. It has no demands of Lebanon other than what every other state wants from its neighbour. That is, not to be attacked across the border.  

The other side is more complex. Most political elements in Lebanon doubtless want to be left alone to rebuild their country, ravaged by decades of civil war and Syrian occupation.  

This conflict was not started by them, but by Hezbollah.  

Hezbollah claims to be a patriotic Lebanese "resistance" movement, but it actually serves the interests of another country.  

It was founded by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Its social services and political activities are almost wholly funded by Iran. Its military wing is funded, armed and trained by Iranians. Iranian Revolutionary Guards were reportedly killed fighting alongside Hezbollah in Lebanon.  

Without constant Iranian assistance, it would probably become insignificant.  

What does Hezbollah want? According to its 1988 manifesto, it wants to create an Islamic state in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.  

And it wants to destroy Israel. The manifesto says, "Our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated.  

"We recognise no treaty with it, no ceasefire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated. We vigorously condemn all plans for negotiation with Israel."  

Hezbollah has maintained similar rhetoric to this day.  

This really means that Hezbollah wants to serve the interests of the Iranian Government, which has almost identical goals.  

Hezbollah can't refrain from attacking Israel, both for religious reasons and because its power in Lebanon depends on claiming to be a "resistance" against supposed Israeli aggression.  

To justify this claim the group needs something to "resist" and has found excuses to attack Israel across the international border.  

To facilitate its need to attack Israel, Hezbollah created "Hezbollah-land" in southern Lebanon, an area where the Lebanese Government essentially had no control, armed with 13,000 rockets pointed at Israeli cities and equipped with bunkers under civilian buildings and rocket storage rooms in civilian houses.  

This has nothing to do with "resistance", as claimed. It was intended to allow attacks on Israel with impunity.  

And this is why Israel reacted so strongly when Hezbollah broke international law and an existing agreement with Israel on July 12, firing dozen of rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and a cross-border raid in which eight soldiers were killed and two kidnapped.  

The key to avoiding a repeat of this conflict is preventing Hezbollah from launching similar attacks whenever it judges the time favourable, or it serves Iranian interests.  

This was recognised in Resolution 1701. The key provisions of Resolution 1701 cannot be allowed to go the way of Resolution 1559.  

The international force it proposes must have robust rules of engagement and a determination to enforce demilitarisation of southern Lebanon and dismantle "Hezbollah-land" as a military stronghold outside Lebanese government control.  

Next, it is crucial the resolution's embargo on weapons to Hezbollah be enforced.  

Mechanisms must be put in place to monitor Lebanon's border with Syria.  

If Iran and Syria, the main suppliers, will not stop this now illegal activity, they must be threatened with sanctions.  

Finally, the Lebanese Government must be strengthened, but all assistance must be contingent on real progress towards an over-riding goal, regaining a monopoly on the use of force in all Lebanese territory.  

Most Israelis and Lebanese simply want to be left in peace.  

The one element that wants to foster conflict is Hezbollah and it must be prevented from doing so.  

Dr TZVI FLEISCHER edits the Australia/Israel Review, which is published by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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