Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Cease-fire looming in Israel/Lebanon: some reflections?

Finally - Condi has made it to the Middle East. Whilst no doubt some of the most difficult parts of Israel's war with Hizbollah will continue in the next few days with small ground forces in Lebanon, the count down towards a cease fire has begun.

The contours of the cease fire will no doubt cover a number of areas. There will no doubt be an insistence on Israel's two soldiers being released, a strong international force being put into place, the gradual disarming of Hizbollah and some blurb about the Shabah farms. An agreement like this will require genuine sustained international endurance for it to stick. Hizbollah - weakened perhaps because of the IAF's bombardment, will no doubt rise up and strongly reject such terms.

The focus of my blogs, however, has always tried to look at what this means for the Israeli/Pal. conflict. Does it have any significance at all? My reason for doing so is that I believe that this is the core conflict between Israelis and the Arab world: solve this problem, everything will fall into place. Some believed that the unilateral withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon in 2000 inspired Hamas and Fatah in the intifada in 2000 and as such had a negative on the Israel/Pal. conflict. So what about the last few weeks. What about a cease fire accord. What could this mean?

Well it could mean a few things:

1. Israel's bombardment of Lebanon - some would say its 'brutal' bombardment may have a deterrent effect on Hamas and other rejectionist Pal. groups. Having seen the devastation done to Lebanon, Hamas may look towards a cease fire arrangement much like that have tried over the past 2 years with the Israeli proviso that the Kassams stop.

2. A successful presence of int. forces in Lebanon, may lead to the principle being applied in the region. After all, Pal. society is currently in chaos, their security forces scattered and an int. force could provide stability to the PA. No doubt Israel would reject this fearing an 'internationalisation' of the conflict.

3. A sustained int. effort in Lebanon should it work could lead to a sustained int. effort on the Israeli/Pal. conflict as well. A move back towards the Clinton engaged approach of the 1990's, which under Bush was successfully abandoned.

4. Of course, the opposite effect could also apply. Israel, who have largely had US's consent to its operation may think it now has liberties to doing things in the territories that they would not think of had doing should Hamas commence terrorist actions.

Whatever happens, the most dangerous Israel can think it that time is on their hands. It is not - the two state solution will not be around forever. Convergence will not assure it - only bilateral talks with Abu Mazen will. Pragmatists within the PA have always and continue to remain the best partner Israel can hope for.


Post a Comment

<< Home