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Cracks In UN Plan Expose Israel

Offers by anti-Israel countries to patrol Lebanon, Hizbullah's welcoming of Lebanese troops and the abandonment of vows to disarm the terrorist group leave Hizbullah stronger and Israel weaker.

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu and Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/18/2006, 10:56 AM / Last Update: 8/18/2006, 5:54 AM

Any hopes that the United Nations Security Council ceasefire resolution ending the hostilities between Hizbullah terrorists and Israel would make Israel safer continue to dissipate. "Villagers throwing rice and Hizbullah supporters holding banners welcomed the [Lebanese] army to south Lebanon," according to the Associated Press.

For the first time in three decades, Lebanese Army troops neared the Israeli border this morning [Friday], as they continue to deploy in southern Lebanon. However, the commander of the Lebanese forces said that his soldiers would not take over a particular village near the border until the heavily war-damaged fence is repaired and the IDF soldiers leave the area.

At the same time, the Hizbullah presence does not seem to be noticeably weaker. At the village of Kila, several hundred yards from the Israeli border, Hizbullah supporters waved their flags, and terrorists made it a point to symbollically attack the United States and Israel during funeral processions in southern Lebanon.

In one village, residents scorned U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "You will not see your new Middle East," said one sign addressed to Rice.

Further complications for Israel are the almost across-the-board abandonment of the UN resolution's intention of disarming Hizbullah south of the Litani River.

According to a Lebanese cabinet decision, Hizbullah will not disarm in southern Lebanon, but its members will refrain from carrying weapons in public. Pro-Syrian Lebanese President Emile Lahoud clearly defined the Lebanese intentions. "The weapons of the resistance are the only ones, of all Arabs, that succeeded in standing up to Israel and defeating it. No one can take away the weapons of the resistance," he told the cabinet.

Israel has criticized the violation and complained about the failure to bring about the return of two IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists. But beyond statements, Israel seems powerless to stop what some feel is shaping up as a charade.

"I would say the show is on the road," said UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown.

France and Germany Make Way for Muslim Nations
France disappointed the U.N. with its surprise announcement that it is sending only 200 troops instead of the thousands that were anticipated. The absence of the French and the refusal of Germany to place its soldiers in a situation of direct confrontation leaves Muslim nations with a larger percentage of the proposed force.

Indonesia and Malaysia each have offered to send 1,000 troops. Neither country has diplomatic ties with Israel, and Malaysia as recently as last week encouraged the world to cut off diplomatic ties with Jerusalem. Israel has objected to the placement of troops from countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations.

Turkey has offered to send 5,000 men, more than any other country. However, Turkey also has been a major transit point for Hizbullah terrorist weapons, according to Israeli intelligence and comments made at an American State Department briefing Thursday.

Italy has proposed sending between 2,000 and 3,000 soldiers, but has also made statements indicating sympathy for Hizbullah. A government minister termed the terrorists' kidnapping of IDF soldiers a "military action," and the government emphasized it would not try to disarm Hizbullah.

Prime Minister Romano Prodi told an Italian news service, "The fact that it won't be Italy who will disarm Hizbullah militia seems to me to be a moot point, also because I don't think the attempt would be productive."

Morocco, which has ties with Israel and has a growing militant Muslim population, has offered to send 1,500-2,000 troops. Like many other nations, it wants a clearer definition from the UN of what is expected of the soldiers and when they are to open fire.

Little Experience
One of the major problems with the UN force that is shaping up is its lack of experience which, accompanied with the presence of a poorly-trained Lebanese army, leaves the area free for Hizbullah to mobilize. Israel already has committed itself to leave southern Lebanon once the UN force is in place.

Brown admitted, "We have [the force] in quantitative terms, but the issue is which battalions we can get there in the timeline required. Are they the right battalions with the right skills and equipment?"

He also explained that the international force would not try to disarm the terrorists, because of the agreement between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government. The force is to join the 2,000-member UNIFIL, unit which has proven to be ineffective - and some say pro-Hizbullah - since its introduction to the area in 1978.

U.S. Secretary of State Rice also has backed down from her previous insistence that Hizbullah cease to be "a state within a state," and that Israel's situation be improved over its pre-war condition. "I don't think there is an expectation that this force is going to physically disarm Hizbullah," she told USA Today. "I think it's a little bit of a misreading about how you disarm a militia. You have to have a plan, first of all, for the disarmament of the militia, and then the hope is that some people lay down their arms voluntarily."

Hizbullah terrorist leaders have made it clear they will keep their weapons, and its terrorists have vowed to continue their war against Israel. Hizbullah official Sheikh Mohammed Yazbik said, "We will preserve the resistance. We won't give up our weapons, our dignity and our honor."

One man, Mohamed Ballout, told Reuters, he is "ashamed that my son was not martyred."

Hizbullah has gathered the support of more than 600,000 Shi'ite Muslims in the area and has built weapons and command centers in the last six years, after then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Barak ordered a sudden unilateral withdrawal of IDF troops in May 2000.

Even a senior American official expressed pessimism about the future. "Our history in Lebanon has not been a happy one," lamented Assistant Secretary of State David Welch.