Robert Fisk: This draft shows who is running America's policy... Israel

Published: 07 August 2006

So the great and the good on the East River laboured
at the United Nations Security Council - and brought
forth a lemon. You could almost hear the Lebanese
groan at this draft resolution, a document of such
bias and mendacity that a close Lebanese friend read
carefully through it yesterday, cursed and uttered the
immortal question: "Don't these bastards learn
anything from history?" 

And there it all was again, the warmed-up peace
proposals of Israel's 1982 invasion, full of buffer
zones and disarmament and "strict respect by all
parties" - a rousing chortle here, no doubt, from
Hizbollah members - and the need for Lebanese
sovereignty. It didn't even demand the withdrawal of
Israeli forces, a point that Walid Moallem, Syria's
Foreign Minister - and the man the Americans will
eventually have to negotiate with - seized upon with
more than alacrity. It was a dead UN resolution
without a total Israeli retreat, he said on a
strategic trip to Beirut.

A close analysis of the American-French draft - the
fingerprints of John Bolton, the US ambassador to the
UN, were almost smudging the paragraphs - showed just
who is running Washington's Middle East policy:
Israel. And one wondered how even Tony Blair would
want to associate himself with this nonsense. It made
no reference to the obscenely disproportionate
violence employed by Israel - just a sleek reference
to "hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides" -
and it made only passing reference to Hizbollah's
demand that it would only release the two Israeli
soldiers it captured on 12 July in return for Lebanese
and other Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.

The Security Council said it was "mindful of the
sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging
the efforts aimed at settling the issue [sic] of the
Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel". I bet
Hizbollah were impressed by the "mindful" bit, not to
mention the "sensitivity" and the soft, slippery word
"settle" - an issue which can be "settled" in maybe 20
years' time. Then came the real coup de grâce. A
demand for the "total cessation by Hizbollah of all
attacks" and the "immediate cessation" by Israel of
"all offensive military operations". Bit of a problem
there, as Hizbollah spotted at once. They have to lay
down their arms.

Had the council demanded an immediate resolution on
the future of the Shebaa farms, the Israeli-occupied
territory which once belonged to mandate Lebanon - and
for whose "liberation" the Hizbollah have fought - the
whole fandango might have stood a chance. After all,
Shebaa is the only raison d'être that the Hizbollah
can produce for continuing their reckless, ruthless,
illegal war across the UN blue line in southern
Lebanon. But the UN document wished only to see a
delineation of Lebanon's borders "including in the
Shebaa farms area". There was even a wonderful
paragraph - Number 9 for aficionados of UN bumf -
which "calls on all parties to co-operate ... with the
Security Council". So the Hizbollah are to co-operate,
are they, with the austere diplomats of this august
and wise body? Isn't that exalting a guerrilla army a
little bit more upmarket than it deserves?

No one was fooled and few disagreed with Syria's Walid
Moallem when he said the UN's draft resolution was "a
recipe for continuing the war". As both the Hizbollah
and the Israelis did yesterday, the former killing 13
Israelis and the latter bombing houses in Ansar - once
an Israeli POW camp - which destroyed five more
Lebanese civilian lives. Mohamed Fneish, a Hizbollah
government minister - who scarcely represents all
Lebanese but talks as if he does - thundered away
about how "we" [presumably the Hizbollah, rather than
the Lebanese] will abide by it [the resolution] on
condition that no Israeli soldiers remains inside
Lebanese land."

There were more Israeli air attacks on Beirut's
southern suburbs yesterday - though heaven knows what
is left there to destroy - ensuring that even more
Shia Muslim civilians will remain refugees. Fearful
that the Israelis will bomb their trucks and claim
they were carrying missiles, the garbage collectors of
this city have abandoned their vehicles and the
familiar 1982 stench of burning rubbish now drifts
through the evening streets. Petrol is now so scarce
that a tank-full yesterday cost £250.

About the only gift to Lebanon in the UN resolution
was the expressed need to provide the UN with
remaining Israeli maps of landmines in Lebanon. But
Israel has again dropped lethal ordnance all over
southern Lebanon. Oh yes, and as usual, the UN draft
on these ambitious, hopelessly conceived ideas
"decides to remain actively seized of the matter". You
bet it does. And so, as they say, the war goes on.

What the UN wants...

* A full cessation of hostilities based upon, in
particular, the cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks
and the cessation by Israel of all offensive military

* Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire
and a long-term solution based on the following
principles and elements:

* Strict respect by all parties for the sovereignty
and territorial integrity of Israel and Lebanon;

* Full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;

* Delineation of the international borders of Lebanon,
especially in those areas where the border is disputed
or uncertain, including in the Shebaa farms area;

* Security arrangements to prevent the resumption of
hostilities, including the establishment between the
Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any
armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those
of the Lebanese armed and security forces, and of
UN-mandated international forces;

* Full implementation of the relevant provisions ...
that require the disarmament of all armed groups in

* Deployment of an international force in Lebanon;

* The Secretary General to develop, in liaison with
key international actors and the concerned parties,
proposals to implement the relevant provisions ... and
to present those proposals to the Security Council
within 30 days;

* The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), upon
cessation of hostilities, to monitor its
implementation and extend assistance to ensure
humanitarian access to civilians and the safe return
of displaced persons;

* The government of Lebanon to ensure arms or related
material are not imported into Lebanon without its
consent and requests UNIFIL, conditions permitting, to
assist the government of Lebanon at its request;

* The Secretary-General to report to the Council
within one week on the implementation and provide any
relevant information in light of the Council's
intention to adopt a further resolution. 


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