“We can therefore assume,” writes Ben-Yishai:
that Israel, apparently in cooperation with France, is also behind the latest French report. France views itself as holding responsibility and special ties with Lebanon, and the information leaked by the French Defense Ministry…constitutes a message to Lebanon and Syria in and of itself.
While such messages, according to Ben-Yishai:
will not bring about the termination of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal, they serve Israel’s deterrent power and are supposed to grant it legitimacy for “disproportional” acts should such strikes be required in Lebanon, and possibly in Syria as well.
A few more points should be added.
First, as even erstwhile strong Obama supporter Marty Peretz observes, the Le Figaro report further underscores the total failure of Obama’s attempt at “engagement” with Syria. The notion that Damascus could be wooed out of the Iranian-led alliance with soft words and promises of money, friendship, and the Golan Heights has once again been exposed as delusory as Syria’s collusion with the terror axis only tightens.
Second, the Le Figaro report adds another nail or two to the coffin of Security Council Resolution 1701, which formally ended Israel’s summer 2006 war with Hezbollah and “called for…the establishment [in southern Lebanon] of an area free of any armed personnel…other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL.” 1701’s rapid demise—if remembered at all—into a bitter joke is notable at a time when there is talk of foreign forces monitoring the West Bank after an Israeli pullout. UNIFIL is still active in southern Lebanon—which meanwhile has turned into a terror hub and forward base of Iranian expansion. For Israel, the same fate for the West Bank would be even worse.
Third, the situation as revealed in the article also has bearing on whether the U.S. should continue its military assistance to Lebanon. That aid was suspended by Congress last August after a Lebanese-army sniper killed an Israeli commander in an unprovoked incident. It is increasingly recognized that, while there are indeed moderate elements in Lebanon, they no longer count, with even the supposedly neutral Lebanese army having gone over to the radical side. Further military aid, then, not only “risks” but is certain to strengthen the side inimical to the West.
And finally, it bears repeating that the current baneful situation in southern Lebanon and the country as a whole is an outcome of Israel’s 2000 withdrawal. In that regard, Israel has itself to blame for the danger it now faces. Still, the momentum for the retreat came in part from internalization of the worldwide pressures for Israeli concessions—pressures that continue to this day. Israel is signaling that it should not, once again, be blamed if it has to clean up the mess.