Monday, August 07, 2006

Israel's Sudden Fondness for UN Resolutions

Listening to Israeli government officials speak recently, I am struck by how many times they reference United Nations Resolutions to justify the war in Lebanon. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, with the typical argument:
All in all, from the standpoint of Israel and the international community, there is international consensus on a series of matters, first of all on who is responsible for the crisis. There is no doubt, and this was also stated in the G8 report, that Hizbullah is responsible. The nature of the threat is also clear - it is a regional threat, related to the Hizbullah - Syria - Iran - Hamas axis. There is consensus that the kidnapped soldiers must be released unconditionally and consensus, which was initiated back in UN Security Council Resolution 1559, only part of which has been fulfilled to date, that Hizbullah must be disbanded and Lebanese sovereignty enforced throughout all of Lebanon.

The Lebanese government's excuse until now has been that it is a weak government. Only the first part of UN Resolution 1559 regarding the removal of foreign armies, namely removing the Syrians from Lebanon, has been fulfilled. The second requirement of the Security Council resolution, which was to dismantle the militias, including Hizbullah, has not been implemented. So, in effect, we are now facing not only a test for Lebanon or a test of Israel - I think this is also a test for the international community.

I believe that the process we created presents the Lebanese government with a challenge and an opportunity - assuming that it has an interest in fulfilling Resolution 1559, although it lacks the ability to do so. The test of the international community is whether its job is to make declarations or whether it can also enforce them. The responsibility, not only from the standpoint of the Israeli government, but also from standpoint of the international community, must rest with the Lebanese government.

The Israeli government is patently correct, Resolution 1559 hasn't fully been implemented. However, when it comes to United Nations Resolutions, Israel isn't exactly in a position to lecture. In fact, Israel's tactic of stressing "international law" only highlights their own transgressions and provides Hezbollah with "legal" justification.

Case in point, United Nations Resolution 425, which demands Israel withdraw from all Lebanese terrority. While Israel finally withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, it maintained its occupation of the 25 square kilometer area of South Lebanon known as Shebaa Farms. Whenever we hear a Hezbollah figure speak, they constantly reference the Shebaa Farms as a justification for resistance. If United Nations resolutions are the mode of argument, it would appear both sides find legitimacy.

Israel is also in violation of many other United Nations Resolutions, most notably 465 and 476 which reference illegal Israeli settlements and occupation of Palestinian land. Despite Sharon's withdraw of some areas, the settlements continue and the state of Palestine remains somewhat occupied. Interesting to note, Hezbollah also cites these violations to legitimize their "struggle". In fact, a quick perusal of United Nations resolutions shows a clear pattern of Israeli transgression and outright defiance. With such a horrible record of respecting international "will", Israel lacks the moral clarity to now demand full implementation of resolutions it deems acceptable. Maybe the way out of this entire mess is an agreement that all United Nations resolutions be implemented. The next time an Israeli official references the international community, I hope someone suggests such a proposal. What's good for the goose....


Jeff said...

Israel and the IDF make my teeth ache. I loathe the terrorist organisation Hezbollah, they should be erased from the planet.

However, Israel is far from perfect. The current affair in the middle east, is only the most recent example. The IDF have purposly targetted the UN before in the Golan and Lebanon. Find here an insightfull backgrounder from the CBC, top the best of my knowledge on the subject, it is accurate.

The world body needs to stand up and do two things. First, denounce all forms of terror, form a rapid reaction military group to respond to such terror. Second, label the current response, which has devolved from measured into a terror campaign, as such. Israel should be sanctioned for the current mess, and Hezbollah must be wiped from the face of the planet (Israel has proven to not be equal to performing the necessary task judiciously).

There are means available for a much more focused response then we are seeing employed currently. If necessary, even leathal means can be focused, and the Israelis have the hardware, and ability.

What we are seeing now is undisciplined wholesale destruction without grounds.

Peace said...

A well written and informative article. Thanks!

It's refreshing to read something with substance and detail amongst the repetitive CNN and Fox jingles that seems to occpy much of the online chatter.

With regards to the comment above, the term terrorism has become warped and twisted beyond reason, and too often assumed to be a carte blanche for those making the accusation to commit acts of terror themselves. Certainly the results from a rain of missiles is no less terrifying than a bomb delivered by a vest.

While the armed faction of Hezbollah is much publicized, the social development side of the organization is largely ignored by the western press. Little is said about the side of the organiztion that administers the many and much needed social assistance programs to the poorer south, including free health coverage to all its members. It operates hospitals, clinics, schools and even has an agricultural and environmental department.

Although it's military wing has much to answer for including the targeting of civilian in the current conflict, lest not forget, the organization was forged out of Israel's previous occupation of Lebanon. Certainly a second attempt at occupation is not going to rid the region of them.

Jeff said...

Hezbollah is first and foremost a terrorist organisation. Their sole purpose is the eradication of Israel. Ignoring that fact, or whitewashing it in the way peace attempts, will not bring peace to the region any sooner.

Steve V said...

The simple fact remains, Hezbollah is so woven into Lebanese culture, any talk of elimination is unrealistic. Hezbollah provides the schooling, the medicine and helps rebuild. Israel has changed their rhetoric, they now advocate weakening Hezbollah, as opposed to the initial talk of destruction- which is a frank admission of Hezbollah's strength.

The PLO was once a "terrorist" organization. Through a careful carrot and stick approach it evolved into an acceptable entity. Depending on how the peace agreement works, Hezbollah may well morph somewhat.

Mark Dowling said...


contrary to your assertion, the UN Security Council and the Secretary General say that UN Res 425 has been fulfilled by Israel.

The only people who say the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese are the Lebanese - every credible map of the region the UN found during the certification process says they are in Syria and part of the Golan Heights occupied territory which is not covered by 425. There was a boundary commission which concluded in 1964 and recommended moving the border so that the farms would be in Lebanon but the Lebanese and Syrian governments did not implement the commission's conclusions.

You are correct to say that in connection with other annexed or occupied territories, Israel is in breach of several UN resolutions.

It is worth noting though that this itself is a point of friction with the Israelis where the UN is concerned, that the UN has had a massive number of resolutions in this conflict in comparison to other areas of conflict in the world which do not have a large bloc of countries consistently using their votes in the General Assembly for getting these passed.

Steve V said...


Point taken, although the Lebanese clearly disagree. I think it might be spliting hairs, because as you acknowledge, this is "Syrian" terrority so it just violates another resolution(or series of them), so it doesn't detract from my point. Your argument is valid, but it just moves the infraction, Israel still hasn't met its obligations.

As for the argument of the UN having an anti-Israel bias, then all the more reason for Israel to refrain from using the UN as a crutch to justify its offensive. You don't get to pick and choose.

Peace said...

Seems everyone who opposes Israeli occupation, expansion and colonization is deemed a terrorist.

Israel labelled the predominately secular PLO a terrorist organization when it was the main obstacle to Israeli ambitions and began funding and support of a religious fundamentalist organization that is Hamas. And when it became clear that Hamas has become the latest obstacle, it too was labelled a terrorist organization. The pattern is too obvious.

The threat to Israel is laughable. With over 200 nukes, limitless and unfettered access to US arms, funds and UNSC veto, Israel has not been under threat since the very early days. Isn't it odd that the country onstantly crying foul and pleading self defense is the one doing all the invasion and occupation?

Steve V said...


One thing I find curious is "armed by Iran" angle that is used against Hezbollah. From the Arab perspective, I wonder how they view the "armed by the United States" reality? One man's threat is another man's defensive support.

Jeff said...

Hezbollah is marked as a terrorists organisation for the tactics they employ. Pure and simple. The target of choice for Hezbollah, has always been the civilian population (just look at where Hezbollah rockets are landing). Before you start off peace, look at my above original post.

Now, I suppose I was in error in saying "...wiping off the face of the planet.", as with my background, one could fairly assume that I mean kill to a man. I do not. Military action should always be a last resort.

What the middle east needs is a heavily armed UN mission. Like it or not, neither side pretends to want to sue for peace, neither side really wants it apparently. The current UN mandate there is a joke, and both sides take advantage.

Israel must be surrounded, and peace must be forced. Hezbollah attacks, the UN responds, not Israel. Israel attacks the UN responds, not Hezbollah. Etc etc.

Israel has become like a rabid dog, with out focus to a very real threat. The end result of which, for every time Israel responds to an attack, they create more recruits to the very monster they are trying to defeat.

The threat to Israel is real. The threat from Israel is real. Denying either side of the story will not bring peace any closer, it will only drive it further away.

Steve V said...

"The end result of which, for every time Israel responds to an attack, they create more recruits to the very monster they are trying to defeat."

Jeff, in my mind I don't think anyone could dispute the fact that Hezbollah is now more popular than ever, both domestically, and more alarmingly throughout the region.

Jeff said...

Hezbollah, could in thoery do much good. Tactics must change though, as dropping rockets in the middle of Haifa and Tel-Aviv are not going to sway me to their cause... Just as the IDF's dropping bombs on civilian centres and plainly marked and large UN installations will not sway me their way.

Should Hezbollah decide to re-target their rockets to Israeli troop masses, then I will give them more credance and credibility... Until then, it is Israel that has the history of being willing to give consessions in the interest of peace (leaving Lebanon, leaving Gaza).

Best solution in my mind's eye? Evacuate all civilians who wanyt to leave, Israeli, Lebanese, and Plaistinian alike, and then let the monsters kill themselves off. It would seem that their is little desire for peace on either side of this coin for the armed camps involved. Little care for the innocent civilians on either side as well... It is highly hypocritical for either side there (armed camps I mean) to be speaking and crying out about civilian casualties, as each is just as responsible.