Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Israel's Cease-fire Demands

Via the Washington Times:

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spelled out Israel's terms for ending its six-day siege of Lebanon yesterday, demanding the return of two kidnapped soldiers, an end to rocket attacks on Israel and the deployment of the Lebanese army to keep Hezbollah away from the common border.
Let's look at those one at a time, shall we?

1. Return of Soldiers: This is the obvious demand since it is the reason for Israel's attack. They can't very well not make this one. Israel has negotiated for the release of hostages taken by Hezbollah before, usually at an unfavorable exchange rate. But this time Israel is negotiating from a position of strength and the only offer they are making is to stop shooting. A much better form of negotiation, though one Hezbollah is not likely to accept. The only thing Hezbollah has in the way of assets (apart from their stockpile of missiles) is their appearance of strength and they cannot afford to appear to surrender to Israel, so this demand is not likely to be met.

2. End to Rocket Attacks: Again, fairly obvious and they can't really ask for anything less and still maintain a an image of success. An end to violence has been a demand of Israel all along, and it was only during Ehud Barak's disastrous policy of unilateral concessions that anything less was deemed acceptable. It is salutary that they seem to be returning to the only sensible policy. But, like the demand for the return of the hostages, this is not likely to be met and for the same reasons.

3. Lebanese Army to Police the Border: This is perfectly reasonable, of course, except that everyone knows that Lebanon does not have the capacity to defeat Hezbollah. They are simply outgunned. But this is interesting as a starting point for a possible cooperation between Israel and Lebanon (with possible US or NATO involvement). I don't know if such a thing is politically possible, but it has a lot more chance of actually succeeding than Kofi Annan's proposed International Force:
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan pressed the five permanent UN Security Council members to contribute to a force that would quell the escalation of violence in the Middle East. [...] The move puts pressure on the U.S., France, China and Russia to contribute to a force that would curtail clashes that started six days ago when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack.

I like the fact that Olmert is talking tough:
"There are moments in the life of any nation where it stares reality in the face and says 'enough,' " said Mr. Olmert in his first address to parliament since the fighting began. "So I say to everyone: 'Enough.' Israel will not be held hostage to a terrorist gang, nor a terrorist authority."
It's about damned time.

No comments: