By Barry Rubin
Israel is constantly urged to put its trust in the international community, an idea that hasn’t worked out too well in the past. Now the UN special envoy for Lebanon has given another reason why Israel shouldn’t take risks and make concessions based on the hope of support from international guarantees.
While he did about the best he could given his situation, Michael Williams, the British diplomat working for the UN in this job, said the UN-sponsored ceasefire that ended the Hizballah-Israel war in 2006 is holding up “very well.”
Technically, this is quite true. There hasn’t been a new war or cross-border attacks. But that’s merely because Hizballah has been too busy taking over Lebanon successfully and preparing for the next war. As Williams admits, arms have flowed to Hizballah (from Syria, though he doesn’t say that). Williams only says that Lebanon’s borders are “porous,” a wonderful diplomatic euphemism for state-sponsored arms smuggling. The Gaza Strip’s borders with Egypt, by the way, have become porous in the same way.
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Hizballah has also moved back into southern Lebanon–something the UN was supposed to prevent–and rebuilt its system of tunnels and military strongpoints. In five years, the UN force has never interfered with these Hizballah activities–not once.
Imagine if you will how UN and international guarantees would work with a Palestinian state. Would the General Assembly vote to condemn Palestine for breaking its commitments? Would any foreign “peacekeeping” force that was part of a peace treaty ever act forcefully to stop weapons or terrorists from crossing the border into Palestine? Would they fight to stop terrorists from crossing the border from Palestine into Israel?
Of course not. Yet that point is not taken into account by any Western government, academic study, or mass media coverage. But it is taken into account by Israel. Otherwise we will read about the UN special envoy for Israel-Palestine peacekeeping talking about how well things are going as incitement, terrorism, and violations of the agreement take place daily.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His articles published originally in places other than PajamasMedia can be found at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com