The Killing of an Irish Soldier in Lebanon Demonstrates the Weakness of the UN

Founded in 1978 to keep the peace after a brief Israeli campaign to drive the Palestine Liberation Organization out of Lebanon, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was granted the more difficult task of keeping military activity out of the southern part of that country following the 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah. Last week, a UNIFIL convoy passing through a Hizballah stronghold came under fire, resulting in the death of an Irish peacekeeper. Sarit Zehavi comments:

UN Security Council Resolution 2650, renewing the peacekeeping force’s mandate last August, clearly stated that UNIFIL’s freedom of movement, and its ability to move without being accompanied by the Lebanese army, must be maintained. In response to the decision, Hizballah issued explicit threats, saying [that the resolution] would turn UNIFIL forces “into occupation forces whose role would be to protect the Israeli enemy by pursuing the people and the resistance”—in other words, calling for an open season on UNIFIL.

For years, UNIFIL soldiers have been described as agents of the “Zionist entity” working for the “enemy peacekeeping forces” Additionally, Hizballah incited against UNIFIL on social media before and after the [recent attack].

This event demonstrates, on the one hand, the international system’s failure to treat Hizballah as a terrorist organization that primarily threatens the security of Lebanon itself. On the other hand, it present an opportunity to turn the equation around. . . . World powers must take advantage of this opportunity to gain leverage over the Lebanese government. Demands to investigate the killing of the Irish soldier and bring those responsible to justice could be a powerful message that the international system will no longer tolerate the strengthening of Hizballah within the Lebanese system, and that its power must be limited.

Read more at i24News

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, United Nations

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations