Six countries officially list Hezbollah or its security arm as a terrorist organization: the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia, but someone forgot to tell Condoleezza Rice. Today she took a little junket to Lebanon and spent her time giving Hezbollah a message of appeasement.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday she welcomes a new power-sharing arrangement in Lebanon even though it increased the power of Hezbollah militants at the expense of U.S.-backed moderates. “Obviously in any compromise there are compromises,” Rice said during a surprise visit to meet Lebanon’s new consensus choice for president. The election of former Army chief Michel Suleiman last month is the clearest sign that Lebanon stepped back from the brink and that the deal with Iranian-backed Hezbollah is taking hold….Rice’s blessing is a sign that the Bush administration has accepted that Western-backed democratic leaders who helped Lebanon throw off three decades of Syrian domination could not govern the country alone. Lebanese politics operate on ambiguity and consensus, and in this case that meant giving veto power to Hezbollah, a militia and political force that the United States lists as a terrorist group.

Then came the real shocker; Rice pleased her Hezbollah hosts by announcing U.S. backing for a new diplomatic push to resolve Syria’s land dispute with Israel that Hezbollah has claimed for itself so it can use as a pretense to attack Israel.

“The time has come to deal with the Sheba Farms issue,” Rice said, referring to the patch of land where the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet.

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The long-disputed farms were not returned to Lebanon during the 2000 pullout after Israel insisted the farms were claimed by Syria. Israel then said that only as part of a peace deal with Syria, which would potentially include returning part or all of the Golan Heights, would it consider returning the Sheba Farms to Syria. The confusion regarding the ownership of the farms dates back to the partition of the French mandate territory during the period between the two world wars that shaped the borders of Syria and Lebanon. The interesting part of this is that until Barak endangered Israel with the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Sheba farms was always part of Syria. Even afterward when Israel was trying to negotiate a peace deal with Syria—> one of the reasons it fell apart was the issue of who gets how much of Sheba farms. Over the past six plus years Sheba has gone from Syrian territory to a Hezbollah excuse to maintain its campaign of terrorism against Israel.

 
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