Saturday, August 12, 2006

Born Into Trouble: Resolution 1701’s rocky start

The ink is not yet dry on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, but there is already at least one indication that the resolution’s implementation will be problematic: Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah’s supposed “acceptance” of the resolution in fact contradicts two of its most important operational clauses.

Here are the relevant parts of the resolution:

[The Security Council...]

1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and Unifil as authorised by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from southern Lebanon in parallel;

And here is some of what Nasrallah has to say about the resolution (with italics supplied by the Don’s Mideast Musings Typography Bureau):

We believe that the resolution that was agreed on last night was unfair, but if there is an agreement on the cessation of hostilities between the Lebanese government and the enemy, we will abide by it without delay...

Regardless of our reservations and political positions, we will cooperate when the Lebanese soldiers and UNIFIL forces are deployed...

We must be aware of the fact that the war will continue for another few days. That's why we are continuing to fight today. We will fight as long as Israeli soldiers are in Lebanon.

In other words, Hezbollah will continue its attacks against Israel – certainly guerrilla warfare against Israel Defense Force soldiers inside Lebanon, and perhaps rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population – despite the fact that Resolution 1701 calls for “the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks” before the Lebanese army and a beefed-up UNIFIL take the place of the IDF in South Lebanon. (One Associated Press report claims that Nasrallah “said Hezbollah rocket strikes on northern Israel would end when Israel stopped airstrikes and other attacks on Lebanese civilians” – but as it doesn’t give Nasrallah’s exact words, even in translation, it’s hard to know how seriously to take this statement. In any case, given Hezbollah’s deployment among South Lebanon’s civilian population, almost anything the IDF does there can be interpreted as “attacks on Lebanese civilians”.)

In short, the evidence so far is that despite the headlines, Hezbollah does not, in fact, intend to abide by the terms of U.N.S.C. Resolution 1701 – and thus it’s entirely possible that the fighting in Lebanon, and Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israeli cities, will continue.

A more detailed analysis of Resolution 1701 in its entirety would probably be a good, albeit unoriginal, idea – if I can get around to it before the resolution becomes completely irrelevant.

(This post can also be found at the Guns and Butter Blog.)

Categories: , , , , .


At Sun Aug 13, 05:42:00 AM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sun Aug 13, 09:29:00 AM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

I'm not sure if I agree with you here, Q. Article 8 says nothing about Israeli withdrawal to some hypothetical new border that may be set; its first point is "full respect for the Blue Line [meaning the border that has already been delineated by the U.N., which puts the Shabaa Farms in Syria] by both parties". Neither does Article 10 say anything about an immediate "return" of the Shabaa Farms.

As far as I can tell, the only reason the Shabaa Farms issue was mentioned at all in Resolution 1701 was to throw a sop to Lebanon; given the fact that all the historical evidence (including Lebanese maps produced after Syria supposedly gave the Farms to Lebanon) points to Syrian ownership of the Shabaa Farms, I don't see any reason to expect the U.N. to come up with a different detemination about their ownership than they did last time.

Israel has never said that it will permanently retain the Shabaa Farms if (A) the U.N. determines that it's Lebanese land, or (B) Syria formally and irrevocably cedes the land to Lebanon in writing. If, by some miracle, a new U.N. inquiry or a Syrian cession makes the Farms Lebanese, I believe that the plan would be for the Farms to be "returned" to Lebanon as part of a peace agreement with Israel. The letter from the U.S. to Israel merely assures us that Resolution 1701 is not to be interpreted as including the Shabaa Farms as Lebanese territory subject to immediate Israeli withdrawal. I don't see anything in the resolution to contradict this; so I view the U.S. letter as a clarification and a guarantee of a particular reading of ambiguous language, not as a violation of the resolution.

At Sun Aug 13, 01:44:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger westbankmama said...

Don, do you think we will keep fighting despite Olmert's caving in?

At Sun Aug 13, 02:09:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi WBM -

Your question, obviously, is more than a bit "loaded". While I'm not particularly thrilled by some aspects of Resolution 1701, I don't think it's fair to classify it as "Olmert's caving in". No resolution that was entirely satisfactory to Israel was going to pass the Security Council, and Resolution 1701 in fact tilts fairly heavily in Israel's favor - especially by U.N. standards. And there was no way the U.N. Security Council was going to let things continue indefinitely without coming up with a resolution on the conflict; the Council already has far too much time and prestige invested in Lebanon's independence to let Israel stay there indefinitely, even if we wanted to do so.

In fact, while it's far too early to write the history of the last month, I'd say that Olmert and Peretz (the latter, in particular, quite new in his position) did a reasonably decent (albeit not perfect) job of dealing with a very bad situation that they inherited from previous governments.

I try to avoid predicting the future, even though since the current Lebanon conflict started I've been repeatedly asked to do so on I'd say that if Hezbollah actually obeys the terms of Resolution 1701, then the active fighting will mostly stop; but if Nasrallah is serious about continuing to fight until Israeli forces are withdrawn from Lebanon, Resolution 1701 will quickly become completely moot and the fighting will continue. I don't know how Nasrallah will decide to operate; and not only can't I claim to have much insight into Nasrallah's thinking, I also don't know how Syria and Iran plan to proceed.

The good news - and "good" is always a relative term in warfare - is that we now have fairly massive forces in Lebanon, so that if fighting continues or resumes, we'll be in a good position to pursue it vigorously.

At Sun Aug 13, 05:56:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sun Aug 13, 06:31:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi again Q -

Ahhh, but you make one mistake, Little Butterfly... Article 8 indeed calls for a future permanent ceasefire and long-term solution which would include, among its terms, no foreign forces in Lebanon without government consent. Resolution 1701 itself does not constitute such a long-term, permanent solution, which is why Article 8 is necessary in the first place. (Note that Article 9 makes sense only if Article 8 is read in this way.)

What this means, in effect, is that Resolution 1701 deals with the immediate problem of halting violence, and is based on the U.N.-delineated "Blue Line" border which it refers to frequently - including in Article 8 itself. Resolution 1701 does call for an eventual Israeli withdrawal to the Blue Line, and it also calls for some form of U.N. reconsideration of the status of the Shabaa Farms; but it does not specifically mandate an Israeli withdrawal from the Shabaa Farms even if the U.N. now determines that the Farms are in fact Lebanese - this would be left to be negotiated as part of the proposed "permanent ceasefire" / "long-term solution" called for in Article 8. (Of course, if the U.N. determines that the Shabaa Farms are in fact Lebanese - or the Syrians formally and irrevocably cede the land to Lebanon - Article 8 does imply that it would be appropriate for Israel to turn the Farms over to Lebanon as part of a long-term settlement.)

This is all complicated by the fact that Resolution 1701 is a bit of a "grab bag", with lots of stuff thrown in to make one side or the other happy; the result is that it has a number of ambiguities and internal inconsistencies (which is a polite way of saying that the resolution is close to being incoherent on some of the conflict's most important issues). The business with Shabaa Farms is hardly the worst of these; it's rather amazing that Resolution 1701's preamble includes the Security Council's emphasis on "the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers," and yet the operation paragraphs say nothing about actually releasing these soldiers to Israel. So much for "urgently addressing" the causes of the Lebanon crisis!

At Sun Aug 13, 10:44:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sun Aug 13, 10:54:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Aug 14, 12:37:00 AM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Responding to Q's two latest comments:

1) "Southern Lebanon" in the context of Resolution 1701 clearly refers to southern Lebanon as defined by the Blue Line border delineated by the United Nations - to which the resolution frequently refers. (The Litani River is often used as an unofficial northern limit on "South Lebanon" - but I'm not aware of any official definition of "southness" in this context.) Anything Resolution 1701 calls on Israel (or anyone else) to do with regard to Lebanese territory can only be understood as referring to what the United Nations considered Lebanese territory at the time the resolution was written.

2) "The same" is very much not true of the Lebanese prisoners held by Israel. The latter are known terrorists, and Resolution 1701 does not call for their release. Its preamble does call for "urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel", but gives no indication of what kind of "settlement" is called for. Now, you could certainly say that if the issue is "urgent", the Security Council ought to have some idea what to do about it; but given that the Security Council expresses no sentiment on what kind of "settlement" of the issue would be desirable, it's hard to envision exactly what sort of operative clause would implement this preamble clause.

In contrast, the preceding preamble clause clearly calls for a specific resolution of the issue of the Israelis held by Hezbollah: they are to be released unconditionally. This is specific and concrete enough that a corresponding operative clause would seem obvious and appropriate.

In reality, the preamble clause dealing with Lebanese prisoners held by Israel was yet another sop thrown to Lebanon/Hezbollah; nobody expects anything to come of it, since the two or three Lebanese held by Israel are known to be guilty of heinous acts of terrorism.

3) There is nothing in Resolution 1701 that prevents Israel from taking preliminary steps to disarm Hezbollah, prevent Hezbollah's rearming, and even clearing out and demolishing Hezbollah positions in South Lebanon - particularly as any arms and fortified positions held by Hezbollah are clearly in contradiction to Resolution 1559, Resolution 1701, and other U.N. resolutions. Such steps by Israel can legitimately be interpreted as defensive in nature, since Hezbollah's only purpose for holding these weapons and positions is to attack Israel.

Resolution 1701 does call on Israel to cease offensive military operations; but it doesn't define exactly what "offensive" means in this context. If a given position is being used to fire rockets at Israel, is attacking it an act of offense or defense? It would seem to me that for Israel to attack a position that is being used to attack Israel should legitimately be considered to be defensive warfare; attacking positions that do not have an offensive purpose and pose no danger to Israel might well be considered "offensive", and thus would be forbidden by Resolution 1701.

Obviously, this (Article 1, that is) is another very murky bit of wording, in that it implicitly permits Israel to continue some military operations, but doesn't properly delineate which operations are and are not permissable.

At Mon Aug 14, 02:09:00 AM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Aug 14, 02:45:00 PM GMT+3, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, bias would seem a pretty strange word to use here.

Samir Kuntar, who is the poster child of the Lebanese prisoners held by Israel, was one of four PLF "activists" who infiltrated Israel on April 22, 1979. After killing a policeman, the four of them broke into the apartment of the Haran family and took the father of the family hostage, along with his four-year-old daughter. The mother was able to hide in a crawl space above the bedroom with her two-year-old daughter. Kuntar's group understood that there were more people in the house and went around looking for them, shooting rounds and throwing hand grenades. Samir Kuntar shot and killed the father at close range in front of his daughter, and then murdered the four-year-old girl by smashing her head with the butt of his rifle against a rock, crushing her skull. Tragically, the two-year-old girl was accidentally suffocated to death, when her mother desperately tried to keep her quiet. Kuntar was tried and convicted in a civil trial for the murders of Danny and Einat Haran. He has many times expressed pride about the killings.

If you think that considering such a person a "terrorist" is an expression of bias, then your values are seriously skewed.

At Mon Aug 14, 04:43:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Aug 14, 06:04:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Q, how many Hezbollah members (other than those just captured in the recent fighting) do you think are being held in Israel? The correct answer is that only three (or maybe four) Lebanese citizens are being held here - and all of them are, indeed, terrorists.

Israel holds quite a few thousand Palestinian prisoners, most of whom have not been tried in court and many of whom, in my opinion, should indeed be released (but not as part of a prisoner exchange for Israeli hostages; that sets a terrible precedent). The case is completely different for Lebanon. I would suggest a little careful Internet research on the subject.

At Mon Aug 14, 07:09:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Aug 14, 07:20:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Q, you're making no sense whatsoever. A terrorist is someone who carries out politically motivated attacks on civilian targets. Hezbollah has a substantial history of carrying out such attacks, as well as an even more substantial history of carrying out guerrilla attacks against military targets (which, taken alone, would not make Hezbollah a terror organization).

The fact is that the Hezbollah members held in Israel (not necessarily counting those captured in the last month) are people who in fact carried out terror attacks - see in particular the details (uncontested and unrepented) of what Samir Kuntar did.

Nobody here said anything about Hezbollah's being a terror organization because they want to get Samir Kuntar and friends released from Israeli jails. They are a terror organization because they intentionally carry out attacks against civilian targets - both in Israel and overseas.

I would strongly suggest that you delete your previous comment and replace it with something a little more coherent and thought-out. You can do better, I'm sure.

At Mon Aug 14, 07:30:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Aug 14, 07:53:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Q, I note several things:

1) You are consistently failing to deal with the factual and logical flaws that I (and others) point out in your arguments. Instead, you keep jumping from topic to topic, basically taking pot-shots and refusing to support any of your assertions. This is classic troll behavior, and I'll have none of it. This is your last warning: if you pull this kind of crap once more I will delete all your past comments as well as any future ones you make.

2) Human Rights Watch has a well-documented record of making undocumented and inaccurate accusations against Israel - see, among others, NGO Monitor for documentation of this. In fact, Israel has made a good-faith effort to attack only military targets in Lebanon; the fact that Hezbollah has deliberately used civilian locations to set up bunkers, weapons depots, etc. itself constitutes a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

If in fact Israel had deliberately attacked civilian targets in Lebanon, the civilian death toll there would be in the tens of thousands, and not a few hundred. (Recent reports indicate that out of something like 900 Lebanese killed in the last month's fighting, around 500 were Hezbollah guerrillas.) And if Israel had deliberately targeted civilians, we would indeed be guilty of a war crime - which is the equivalent of terrorism.

One obvious question to ask is, why would Israel (A) deliberately attack civilian targets in Lebanon, and yet (B) do such a bad job of it that we get all the negative publicity of having killed innocent people without having killed enough of them to create any strategic advantage? The way you (and Human Rights Watch) would have it, our behavior is completely self-defeating and makes no sense whatsoever.

3) You seem intent on bashing Israel rather than on seriously addressing any of the genuine issues facing Israel, Lebanon, and the rest of our region. This gets filed under "trolling" - and as I mentioned above, I will be quite happy to delete your posts if you persist in it. This is not a public forum, and you have no free-speech rights here. I'm quite happy to face genuine and sincere challenging questions, but I will not waste my time and my readers' time dealing with trolls.

At Mon Aug 14, 10:08:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Q said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Mon Aug 14, 10:34:00 PM GMT+3, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

As readers may notice, I've deleted all posts by "Q". I do not tolerate trolls, especially anonymous ones.

For the moment, I'll leave comments on this blog unmoderated; but if "Q" attempts to post again, I reserve my right to enable comment moderation - meaning that anyone who comments will have to wait for me to get around to approving his/her remarks.

I intensely dislike having to do this; as far as I'm concerned, forums should be as open as possible, and I welcome challenging questions. However, people who ask questions should show some interest in the answers! A "reader" like Q - who is clearly not here to learn or discuss, but merely to use my blog as a platform for his/her Israel-bashing - is not a welcome guest.

At Sat Sep 09, 12:45:00 AM GMT+3, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is also worth noting that every single rocket fired by Hezbollah constituted a war crime, since weapons that cannot be aimed with some accuracy are banned by the Geneva convention.


Post a Comment

<< Home