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Thursday, July 27, 2006

US 'counseling' Israel to negotiate on Har Dov

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the United States is 'counseling' Israel to negotiate a withdrawal from Har Dov. The problem with this is that the US is counseling Israel to negotiate with Lebanon and the UN has said that the area belongs to Syria. Syria refuses to negotiate with Lebanon over it until Israel withdraws. And you can bet that the Syrians are also going to want to negotiate over the Golan Heights at the same time - something Israel will refuse to do.
The US is "counseling" Israel to negotiate a possible withdrawal from the Mount Dov (Shaba Farms) area with Lebanon as part of a long-term arrangement for Lebanon, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

This issue was one of the focuses of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's talks in Jerusalem Tuesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

However, this issue - as well as discussions about the mandate and composition of a possible multinational force in Lebanon - was shunted aside Wednesday because of the bitter fighting and the IDF losses at Bint Jbail.


Regarding the day after the fighting, however, one component to emerge from Rice's meetings here Tuesday was a feeling among the Americans that eventually getting to a "cessation of hostilities" will entail both Israel and Lebanon - Lebanon, not Hizbullah - being able to point to some kind of victory. In this formula, Israel's victory would clearly be a roundly defeated Hizbullah pushed back from the northern border. For the Lebanese, a victory could be an Israeli withdrawal from Mount Dov, and a massive international aid package.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora alluded to the issue during his comments at the press briefing at the end of the Rome Conference Wednesday, saying that the conference presented an opportunity to express "Lebanon's demands that for so many years part of our country is still occupied, which is represented by the Shaba Farms, which [is] still occupied [by] Israel."

The US is not pressing Israel on the issue, but is discussing with Jerusalem when the right time would be to put it on the table, the Post has learned. The concern in both Washington and Jerusalem is that a willingness to talk about this not be interpreted as a victory for Hizbullah. Nevertheless, the US is counseling Israel to consider when to raise the issue.

The area is a 100 square mile parcel of land located at the foot of Mount Hermon where the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders meet. Israel took control of the area after the Six Day War in 1967, and since then has built up a number of military outposts on the strategic hills.

The UN has said that this area is part of Israeli-occupied Syria, and the Syrians have never been willing to relinquish the area to the Lebanese. Any deal on this matter would also have to involve Syrian acquiescence.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev, when asked whether Israel would be willing to discuss this matter with the Lebanese, said, "As far as I know, no one in the international community believes that Shaba farms is part of Lebanon."

The Syrians are dying to find a way to get themselves into the current dispute with Israel. But as of now, they have nothing to offer.

If the US insists on Israel negotiating over Shaba Farms, it will give the Syrians a way to gain something out of the current war. Israel cannot negotiate over Shaba Farms with Lebanon in isolation from Syria, and Syria will not negotiate with Israel unless it gives Syria the entire Golan Heights at the same time (which would be madness on Israel's part).

The question is, having just orchestrated Syria's expulsion from Lebanon a few months ago, why would the US now want to reward them by handing them a hook against both Israel and Lebanon? I suppose it could be that the US is pursuing the "divide Syria from Iran" strategy and hoping that it can pry Syria loose from Iran by giving it this opportunity. But if that's it, the strategy is doomed to fail. Syria and Iran have been becoming closer. Allowing Syria to hold the cards on Shaba Farms is unlikely to change that.

I've been looking for an excuse to do a longer post on Syria's disappearance from the playing field. Perhaps tomorrow....


At 3:36 AM, Blogger Neurodoc said...

I am deeply afraid that the cease fire will be forced on Israel the day Hizbollah runs out of missiles. Olmert's lack of realism (combined with Barak and Sharon's) led to this problem. Rice's lack of realism about how hard the fighting really is will further lead to Israel being punished within US policy. Israel has no choice but to fight hill by hill until the whole of Hizbollah is defeated even if that takes months

At 4:08 AM, Blogger Chris said...

With all due freaking respect, Condi is not the one
who decided to play the Hezzie ball game of mobilizing too few troops and too few tanks to go north past the Litani. Tyre is up past the Litani and that's where those dadgum missiles that are hitting Haifa are stationed.

This is like Rumsfeld's mobilization for Iraq: too goddamn little to get the job done. Your troops are freaking outstanding men, but they are going up against trained infantrymen on their home ground who have been training for this day for six years.

To get the job done, Olmert WILL have to push on to the Bekaa, period. He must, or his government will fall. I see this coming. Netanyahu is waiting in the wings: he'd have had 125,000 men mobilized by now. What's Olmert's excuse?

Condi knows exactly what Israel is up against. You don't think she doesn't get intelligence forwarded to her as a courtesy from IDF Northern Command? She does.

She stood ALONE today in Rome against the entire appeasement lobby of the Eurotrash Union so she could buy time for this government to get its act together. You have no better friends right now than Bush and Condi, but you people are wasting time. The Iranians are resupplying the Hezzies through Damascus and the feeder lines that run into the Bekaa. No one, it seems, has planned on running the armored brigade up there to stop that sumbitchery.

You don't do that, you don't beat the Iranians. That's what this is all about. The Hezzies will ALWAYS be in Lebanon. You can come to a modus vivendi with them, but you have to run the Iranians out of the Levant.

The IDF is firm in its valor and heroism, just as are the U.S. Army and Marines, several hundred miles to the east. However, a weapon if used, must be used wisely if it is to be used at all.

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Olmert is too busy worrying about how he will give Judea and Samaria to the Pali's when this is over and about how to get out of this debacle without killing any 'innocent civilians' to actually get the job done.

If he actually did what needed to be done, his LLL wife and daughter would throw him out in the street.

Hopefully, the 'Israeli street' will throw him out and bring about new elections. The sooner the better.

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Always land for a peace that never comes. Enough. The USA stopped a warmongering nation many years ago for less.


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