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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

UN changes its mind on Shaba Farms

The UN has now changed its mind and given Hezbullah a pretext to continue attacking Israel.

After Israel fled from southern Lebanon in 2000, the UN determined that the withdrawal to the 'blue line' that demarcated the international border was sufficient that Israel was no longer 'occupying' 'Lebanese territory.' Shaba Farms, which Israel liberated from Syria along with the Golan Heights in 1967, was classified as 'occupied Syrian territory,' to be dealt with in the context of a 'peace agreement' with Syria, when and if ever. Just last summer, Operating Paragraph 4 of Security Council Resolution 1701 determined that the Security Council "Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line." No more. The UN has changed its mind.
The United Nations has transmitted messages to Israel in recent weeks that the organization's mapping experts have determined that the controversial Shaba Farms on Mount Dov near the Lebanese border, now controlled by Israel, is Lebanese territory. The UN, which has communicated to Israel that the disposition of the Shaba Farms should be dealt with as soon as possible, has proposed to senior government officials that Israel withdraw from the area and that it be considered international territory to be controlled by UNIFIL.
Hezbullah has used the Shaba Farms as a pretext for attacking Israel since Ehud (Barak) fled southern Lebanon in the summer of 2000. Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Feigle Livni are opposed to the idea of just turning over the Shaba Farms. Even they realize that turning over Shaba Farms now will just raise more demands:
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert oppose the idea. The size of, and sovereignty over, the Shaba Farms has been a matter of controversy due to the way the border between Syria and Lebanon was marked during the French Mandate between the two world wars. When the UN marked the border between Israel and Lebanon after Israel's withdrawal in May 2000, the Shaba Farms were said to be part of Syrian territory, and that Israel therefore did not need to withdraw from it in the absence of an agreement with the Syrians. Lebanon did not accept the line of demarcation, and has since claimed that the Shaba Farms are in its territory.
I would like to see something in writing from the Syrians that says that they agree that the Shaba Farms is Lebanese. That won't happen so long as the anti-Syrian Siniora government is in power in Lebanon. Israel is handling the matter with 'kid gloves' out of fear that any kind of statement from the UN could lead to war with Hezbullah. But France and the US are pressuring Israel to concede the territory in the hope of strengthening the Siniora government.
France and the United States are also ratcheting up their pressure on Israel, in the belief that a withdrawal from the Shaba Farms will strengthen the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will be coming to the region next week, pressed Olmert during the Second Lebanon War to withdraw from Shaba to bolster Siniora. Olmert refused, saying the move would be viewed by Hezbollah as a victory. Israel and the UN discussed Shaba ahead of the release two weeks ago of the periodic report on the implementation of Resolution 1701. The UN wanted to include a clause stating that Shaba was Lebanese and urging a solution. This would have been a departure from 1701, which states that the fate of the farms is to be resolved in the determination of the border between Lebanon and Syria.
Lest any of you get the wrong impression, if Israel concedes Shaba Farms, this will not be the end of Hezbullah demands. The next set of demands is already waiting. And the Siniora government has bigger problems that the Shaba Farms won't help resolve:
[Zawahiri] then calls on all Muslims in the Lebanon to rebel against the forces which oppose Islam and have encircled them, and threatens: “Those who conspire against jihad and the mujahideen in Lebanon through American weapons, Zionist corruption, and Saudi money must start to dig their graves with their own hands.”

Zawahiri praises last month’s bombing attack which killed six Spanish members of the international forces in the south of this “precious part of the land of Islam.”

He goes on to castigate Hamas for its participation in the Mecca Treaty and for ceding four-fifths of Palestine, and calls upon its leaders to return to Salafist Jihadi doctrine.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources say the reference to Lebanon is the key passage of the tape. It is a reply to a message dated June 30 to al Qaeda leaders which the Fatah al-Islam group fighting Lebanese troops in the northern Nahr al-Bared camp for 51 days relayed through Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Over the signatures of “Syrian bin Laden” and “Abu Dujana al Shami,” the message states: “Those who are fighting the American project in the Middle East, represented by Saad Hariri and Fouad Siniora, have three things to say:

1. We hereby pledge allegiance to al Qaeda.

2. Our continued war effort is troubled by Ayman Zawahiri’s recent public mention of Hamas which omits mention of our group.

3. We appeal to al Qaeda to break its silence on the slaughter we face from American arms.

Al Qaeda’s response came ten days later from headquarters somewhere in Pakistan-Afghan border country in the form of the Zawihiri tape.
And tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of last summer's war.


At 2:08 PM, Blogger M. Simon said...

It looks to me like the run up to WW2.

Peace bought in increments. War sold wholesale.

PS. Why is Olmert still PM?


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