Israel Must Call More Attention to Hizballah’s Failure to Comply with the 2006 Cease-Fire

January 13, 2020 | Assaf Orion
About the author: Assaf Orion is director of the Israel-China program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv and an international fellow at the Washington Institute. A brigadier general (Res.), he previously headed the strategic division in the IDF’s planning directorate.

At the end of the five-week war in 2006 between Israel and Hizballah, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1701 with the aim of keeping both parties out of southern Lebanon; the resolution also created a peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL, to enforce its terms. As required, in November the United Nations published one of its periodic reports on the situation in southern Lebanon; it was unusually frank about the extent to which Hizballah, with the cooperation of the Lebanese military and government, has been violating the resolution’s terms. Yet the report depicts only the tip of the iceberg, as Assaf Orion writes:

[T]he campaign of harassment of UN forces in southern Lebanon, two incidents of anti-tank-missile launches, the excavation of attack tunnels into Israeli territory that have been in existence for more than a decade, dozens of rocket incidents, four arms depots that exploded, and almost ten explosive-device attacks against UNIFIL and the IDF demonstrate the diversity and abundance of Hizballah’s military presence in southern Lebanon, and its ability to employ it at will. Contrary to the report’s claims, . . . it is blatantly clear that the Lebanese army does nothing against Hizballah’s massive military deployment in southern Lebanon, and subsequently UNIFIL is unable to help it do so.

In response, Orion argues that Jerusalem should do everything it can to document the violations of Resolution 1701 and bring the evidence to the attention of sympathetic governments:

Israel should encourage its Western partners to review their policy toward Lebanon. . . . The economic-political crisis in Lebanon reinforces the state’s dependence on external aid, which can be made conditional on significant progress not only in areas that top the international agenda—reforms, combating corruption, improved governance, and political-economic stability—but also [compliance with Resolution 1701]. The economic crisis likewise reinforces the value to Lebanon of a possible agreement regarding Mediterranean gas, which could be the first step toward a gradual economic-security settlement [with Israel].

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