By: Dr. Eyad El Sarraj
29 August 2006
There is a general consensus in Israel that the war in Lebanon has not achieved its declared two goals; the destruction of Hizballah and the securing of the captured Israeli soldiers. The war in Lebanon has thus alarmed the western powers, and the US in particular, to the reality that Israel is not as formidable as it was thought to be and that was indeed very astonishing. For a whole month Israel has thrown every thing of its arsenal onto Lebanon except for atomic bombs, but emerged more vulnerable, insecure and demoralized. So insecure that the unilateral disengagement plan from the West bank, which has helped Olmert victory in the recent elections, is now almost a dead option. Israelis fear that Tolkarm, Jenin and Bethlehem will be used by Palestinians to launch rockets into Tel Aviv and Haifa. Hizballah style. Israel has never been so terrified.
The Bush administration was getting restless as the Israeli war machine was systematically brutal but not reaching the goal. Initially Bush declared that Israel has the right to defend itself and his administration has blocked the call for a cease fire and has given Israel a reasonable four weeks to finish the job but could not extend it any further as pressure was mounting for a cease fire. Images of Lebanon being destroyed and hundreds of massacred children were becoming stressful for the world. Bush had to yield.
When it was becoming so clear that Israel could not finish the job, the Bush and Chirac governments moved in with a proposal for a UN Security Council resolution which basically aims at securing the northern Israeli border. An international 15,000 strong force will be deployed alongside a similar Lebanese army force. No one was concerned about Lebanon and its security. The most important issue was how to protect Israel.
How could Israel be protected after Lebanon??. Predictably, analysts believe that Israelis need to go to war and win it. Na´ve people like myself have never thought of this question of Israel security seriously enough. May be we are too concerned about our own security and our right to defend ourselves! May be we were so impressed with Israel military superiority at war that we never considered that the Hizballah example would work. The failure of PLO guerrilla war against Israel for more than three decades and then the relative ease of its destruction has almost killed the idea. Hamas suicidal missions were never capable of being seen as an answer or an alternative. We believe that it is not morally acceptable to kill unarmed civilians even in the name of liberation or self defense!
Before the war in Lebanon Arabs were slowly but steadily driven into a state of learnt helplessness and despair. They were awakened by Hizballah and many millions want to give it a try in a new kind of war.
If Israelis and Arabs want a war, I will not be surprised if the US administration will push both sides for it. Bush needs to win something too.
Can all that be stopped?
If Israel feels so insecure, Arabs feel the urge and the West is so concerned, then why don't we use that fear in a positive manner. I propose that the Arabs should put on the table in the next Security Council session the idea that an international force be deployed on the borders of the UN partition plan of Palestine. This force which represents the World will protect Israel and make it secure. Such a force will also protect Palestinians and their land. For many years I have advocated an international mandate over Palestine. May be now is the time since Israel need for protection, or for a new war, is obvious.The internal problems of the Palestinians is a much more difficult issue and I have no proposal or brains for it now. It is hoped however that such an international force and mandate will protect Palestinians from themselves and prepare them for running a State.