Op-Ed: Shebaa Farms and UN Deceit
Jared IsraelJared Israel is the Editor of the Emperor's New Clothes website, dedicated to analyzing patterns of lies by the media and political figures.
On 22 May 2000, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a report on implementing Security Council Resolution 425, calling for Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon and for Lebanon to take charge of the area Israel vacated. That part is well known; what's not is that Annan's report mocked Lebanon and Syria for clumsily fabricating the claim that Lebanon had sovereignty over a small, but important, area known as Shebaa Farms, part of the Golan Heights.
Annan's report did not discuss the motive for the bogus claim, but that became obvious after Israel withdrew: to enable Lebanon to argue that Israel still occupied some Lebanese territory. This allowed Hizbullah (and Lebanon) to present Hizbullah's kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldiers and its shelling of, and raids into, Israeli communities as 'resistance' aimed at forcing Israel to relinquish Lebanese lands.
Syria supported Lebanon's claim for the obvious reason that it also wished to give Hizbullah a pretext for terror, but Syria's support has been weak, as Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora complained on US television, because Syria doesn't want to actually surrender its own claim to Shebaa Farms.
So, wherein lies the UN's duplicity?
* Despite knowing - and, in diplomatic language, stating - that the Shebaa Farms issue was the purist baloney;
* Despite the fact that Shebaa Farms has been used for six years by Hizbullah, with Lebanon's support, to justify Hizbullah's ongoing war;
* Despite the fact that launching an unjustified war is the greatest war crime;
* Nevertheless, neither the UN, nor any of its members, including the US, ever even suggested that Lebanon is criminally guilty. Rather, Lebanon has been described as a victim of Israel and (to a lesser extent) Hizbullah.
The whitewash is so complete that Lebanon's Justice minister just boasted: "During the term of this government, Lebanon has become the pampered son of the international community." Everyone, the US included, competes over sending millions of dollars to rebuild Lebanon; not a cent is pledged to rebuild Israel, hit by thousands of missiles.
The deceit of the so-called international community has been extreme, with the UN Security Council: a) every year expressing grave concern over the fighting around Israel's northern border, while avoiding Lebanon's criminal role and criticizing Israel for her (minimal) acts of self-defense; b) every year repeating that Lebanon should speedily (!) dispatch troops to take charge of southern Lebanon, in accord with Resolution 425, even though Lebanon not only sent no troops, but openly backed Hizbullah; and c) every year renewing the term of UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon), charged with certifying Israel's withdrawal (a dead issue after May 2000) and with helping Lebanon deploy to the border. By renewing UNIFIL - at Lebanon's request - every year, and never denouncing Lebanon for using Shebaa Farms as a pretext for war, the UN provided Lebanon / Hizbullah with a cover for jihad.
And now the UN's US-French-sponsored ceasefire endorses negotiations over the Shebaa 'dispute,' thus giving UN approval, after the fact, to six years of jihad by Hizbullah and Lebanon, with Iranian and Syrian support; a jihad justified by an 'issue' the UN dismissed as a clumsy fraud six years ago.
The key paragraph of Annan's 22 May 2000 UN report is #17:
17. On 15 May 2000, the United Nations received a map, dated 1966, from the Government of Lebanon which reflected the Government's position that these farmlands were located in Lebanon. However, the United Nations is in possession of 10 other maps issued after 1966 by various Lebanese government institutions, including the Ministry of Defence and the army, all of which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. The United Nations has also examined six maps issued by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including three maps since 1966, which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. On the basis of the Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces of 31 May 1974 and its Protocol concerning the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which included maps initialed by Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic, the Shab'a farmlands fall within the scope of the area of operations of UNDOF. The area coming under the mandate of UNDOF has remained unchanged until the present time. It follows that in adopting resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), the Security Council could not have included as part of the UNIFIL area of operations an area which had already formed part of the UNDOF area of operations. It is worth noting that, notwithstanding the conflicting evidence to which I have alluded, and whatever the present understanding between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, these farmlands lie in an area occupied by Israel since 1967 and are therefore subject to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) calling for an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory. (A total of 81 maps were available to the United Nations from various sources dating from before and after 1966; 25 of these were issued by the Governments of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.)Even as Kofi Annan mockingly dismissed the Shebaa Farms claim, his duplicity is evident in the above remarks about Security Council Resolution 242 and the Golan Heights. Israel seized this 400-square-mile strategic area from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967. Aside from the question of whether Syria ever had a legitimate claim to the Golan Heights, from the time Israel and Syria signed an armistice agreement in 1949 until the 1967 war, "Syria used its position on the Heights to shell Israeli farms and settlements in the Galilee below and to attack Israeli water projects in the Huleh Valley." Indeed, Syria's shelling of northern Israel was one of the root causes of the '67 war.
Contrary to Kofi Annan, Resolution 242 does not dictate Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Enacted after the 1967 war, it calls for "the application of both the following principles..." One is Israel's withdrawal from (unspecified) territories "occupied in the recent conflict." But the other, and clearly central, principle is, "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
Notice that Resolution 242 did not call for Arab states merely to make a verbal show of peace in exchange for territory, but to "respect" Israel's right to a secure existence. How did Syria respond? In the 33 years between the passage of Resolution 242 and Annan's 22 May 2000 report, Syria's state-controlled media continually broadcast calls to destroy Israel, while the government granted arms, money, free transit and a base of operations for terrorists acting on that call. Syria continually violated the central point of Resolution 242, its call for Arab regimes to stop trying to destroy Israel.
How grotesque for Mr. Annan to cite Resolution 242 to bash Israel in the very report where he mocked Syria and Lebanon for Lebanon's bogus claim to Shebaa Farms; a claim whose only purpose could have been, and has proven to be, providing what Resolution 242 called a "[claim] of belligerency," that is, a pretext for six years of war on Israel's northern border, in direct contradiction to Resolution 242's assertion that every Middle Eastern country must be allowed "to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."