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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

UNIFIL falling apart?

Yesterday, I did a lengthy post regarding the possibility of Israel trying to put an 'international force' in place in Gaza. At the end of that post, I went through a brief laundry list of the problems with UNIFIL and asked whether anyone having seen that list of problems would like to see them repeated in Gaza.
That was a real effective model, wasn't it? If they make an 'international force' in Gaza, does anyone think its rules of engagement will include patrolling at night? Will it need permission from Hamas to make arrests? Will it only patrol 12 miles off the coast, so Hamas will have room to smuggle arms in by sea? Will it include troops from Islamist countries? Maybe we can ask 'our friends the Egyptians' to participate - they have so much experience in Gaza already, and the Iranians will be happy to supply weapons. Maybe the Russians would like a base in Gaza too. And if we get into another war with the 'Palestinians' will the 'international force' give Hamas useful real-time data with which to fight us?

For those of you who actually followed all those links, do any of you still think Israel should seek to install an 'international force' in Gaza? I didn't think so....
This morning, we can add another problem to the list of reasons why UNIFIL is a mistake that should not be repeated: It may be about to fall apart.
A high-ranking defense official told The Jerusalem Post that Israel had indications Spain was considering withdrawing its forces from Lebanon. Spanish peacekeepers have come under repeated attacks by terrorist groups in southern Lebanon and in July, six members of the Spanish contingent were killed in an attack on their convoy near the village of el-Hiyam.

The official said that due to the attacks, Spain was under growing pressure to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, in the same way it pulled out of Iraq in 2004 following the Madrid terrorist bombings earlier that year. The official said the outcome of the national elections in Spain next month could determine whether the country would continue to participate in UNIFIL.

"There are signs that Spain might be on its way out," one official said. "The combination of the attacks and the political pressure back home makes it difficult to see the country staying in Lebanon past the end of the year."

"Once one country pulls out the rest of the contributors will also start to rethink their participation, and it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of the entire force," the defense official said.


European Union Ambassador to Israel Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal said Monday that he did not know of any EU member state that was considering leaving UNIFIL.

"No one thought participation in the UNIFIL force would be [as easy as] a military parade," Cibrian-Uzal said, adding that "as a matter of principle, the EU remains fully committed to UNIFIL."
And here's yet another reason not to repeat the UNIFIL mistake: Israel doesn't count on UNIFIL to prevent attacks anyway:
While Israel does not count on UNIFIL to prevent Hizbullah attacks, it does see importance in European participation in trying to maintain stability in southern Lebanon.
Why sacrifice the lives of Israeli soldiers to put a force in place on which Israel cannot count to prevent attacks?


At 5:46 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

There are lots of interesting things going on at the Jerusalem Conference that opened this morning. In particular Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's comments about Land For Peace. The past decade has seen Israeli governments come and go, still wedded to an obsolete political and diplomatic formula that does not take in account the region's bed-rock realities. UNIFIL is the metaphor for that entire concept.


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