UNITED NATIONS — The United States and France reached agreement Saturday on a draft resolution that calls for an end to the fighting in Lebanon and the eventual deployment of a U.N.-mandated peacekeeping force. But in the battle zone, the conflict intensified as Hezbollah unleashed a rocket barrage at northern Israel, killing three people, and heavy skirmishes erupted in the border region.
The draft U.N. resolution seeks "a full cessation of hostilities," calling on Hezbollah to immediately stop all attacks and for Israel to cease "all offensive military operations." The wording suggests that Israel would retain the right to act defensively, a term that could be interpreted broadly.
Lebanon is balking, however:
Lebanon has rejected a draft UN resolution proposed by the US and France that calls for a "full cessation of hostilities," while Israel said it would keep attacking Hezbollah until an international force arrives to take over in southern Lebanon.
Nouhad Mahmoud, a Lebanese foreign ministry official, said on Sunday that the government "would have liked to see our concerns more reflected in the text" of the draft resolution.
"Unfortunately, it lacked, for instance, a call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces which are now in Lebanon. That is a recipe for more confrontation."
He added that Beirut remained committed to the seven-point plan adopted last month by its cabinet, which includes Hezbollah ministers.
The plan calls for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, the return of Lebanese people driven from their homes by the fighting and the deployment of UN and Lebanese forces in the south, along with the disarmament of Hezbollah.
So Lebanon isn't going to be satisfied with any resolution that doesn't involve the withdrawl of Israeli troops from their land. Israel, in the mean time, seems intent to continue asserting itself:
JERUSALEM - Israel’s military on Saturday warned all residents in Sidon, south Lebanon’s biggest city, to evacuate ahead of planned air strikes on Hezbollah rocket launching sites and offices, the army said.
Several Israeli army officials said leaflets dropped on the coastal city had warned all residents to leave. They gave no timeframe for the expected strikes.
So a couple of key points:
- The U.S. is bowing to pressure from the Saudis to bring about a cease fire in Lebanon, but they're also trying to please their fundamentalist Christian base, who have serious Zionist tendencies. So they call for a cease fire that asks nothing of the Israelis in terms of concessions.
- Several people have contended that the goal of the Israelis is to re-establish their occupation of southern Lebanon. Their stated intention of shelling the most populous city in southern Lebanon (a city that is mostly Sunni, when their stated target, Hezbollah, is Shi'ite) along with the U.S.-backed resolution which allows Israeli troops to stay put bears that contention out.
- Lebanon is not going to back this resolution. Israel is not going to go along with Lebanon's Hezbollah-backed seven-point plan, which basically tells Israel to fuck off and go home. So what we're going to see is a lot more death from Hezbollah rockets and Israeli shells.
- The U.S. and France are gesticulating like they want the killing to stop, but a real solution would involve the U.S. and Iran putting their heads together in order to pull the plug on both Israel and Hezbollah. As Greg Palast suggests, the reason this avenue isn't being pursued is because there's a lot of money to be made amidst all the carnage.
It's not so much that they want to see the Middle East embroiled in death and destruction, as a protracted conflict would bring about, but they're not in a real big hurry to stop the bleeding, either. Malignant neglect is the name of the game when we're dealing with this administration. We saw it on 9/11, we saw it with the Iraq War, we saw it during Hurricane Katrina, and we're seeing it now with Lebanon. Let a few thousand people die, then do something. Line your pockets in the mean time. SOP.