Sunday, August 06, 2006

Critical Questions Ahead

Whether it will be easy to implement the resolution that is now on the table of the UN Security Council must be open to some considerable doubt.

It calls for the "immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks" and the "immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations", but leaves open the question whether Hezbollah will accept that Israel is seen to be given some room for continued attacks.

More difficult is what will happen on the ground in southern Lebanon.

Here, a zone between the Blue Line - the border between Lebanon and Israel - and the Litani River should be free of "any armed personnel, assets and weapons" other than those of the Lebanese government or authorized by the US.

Since the advance of the Israeli army so far seems to be rather limited, the resolution seems to be based on either Hezbollah voluntarily clearing out everything it has from this area or the coming international force undertaking the task of clearing the area.

The likelihood of either of these two options being realized imminently seems to me to be rather remote.

But answers to these and other questions might come in the second resolution that more specifically concerns the international force. This is however unlikely to be tabled until the government of Lebanon has given its assent, and that might not be fortvoming that easy or that fast.

Perhaps the idea is for a force to start entering the area and then ordering the withdrawal from the area of both the Israeli army and Hezbollah.

The problem is that it is not unlikely that fighting will continue in southern Lebanon up until that time since the Israeli army will not have been asked to withdraw and Hezbollah might not agree to vacate the area at the least until such time as the Israelis do it.

Well, the positive thing that can be said is that the focus of the conflict might shift from the ground and air of Lebanon and northern Israel to the corridors by the East River in New York.

But for the suffering peoples, the only thing that counts is an immediate cessation of all hostilities and military actions.

The next few days will show whether the resolution will be accep0tred in its present form and whether it can achieve these aims.

There are big question marks hanging over the process.