IN THE MEDIA

Year of living dangerously

Jul 16, 2007 | Bren Carlill

Bren Carlill

Courier-Mail, July 16, 2007

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22078201-27197,00.html

A YEAR ago this week, the Hezbollah-Israel conflict captured the attention and fears of the world after an unprovoked Hezbollah rocketed Israeli cities, crossed the border, captured two soldiers and killed eight others. Israel replied by striking Hezbollah military targets, many illegally located in civilian areas.
Today, the Hamas coup, a Syrian troop build-up, assassinations in Lebanon and an Israeli political crisis are all linked.

Although Israel failed to recover its soldiers, it destroyed much of Hezbollah’s infrastructure, offering Lebanon an unprecedented opportunity to take back control of its south.

Lebanon squandered that opportunity. It has been weakened by Syria assassinating Lebanese politicians and sponsoring June’s Fatah al-Islam uprising. Hezbollah has been trying to overthrow the pro-West government.

The United Nations has no such excuse. In Lebanon since 1978 to stop private militias, its legal and military ability to disarm Hezbollah was strengthened after the war but it has done little to nothing. Hezbollah knows this and is building fortified positions within sight of UN bases.

If the UN does not want to carry out its mandate, it should leave. By not tackling Hezbollah, it is ensuring the world’s despots will continue seeing UN threats of peacekeeping interventions as meaningless.

Syria mistakenly interpreted Israel’s inconclusive victory over Hezbollah as weakness, prompting it to increase troops on the Syrian-Israel border. It has made numerous “peace or else” statements. If Israel doesn’t agree to Syria’s preconditions for peace, Syria says it “can’t guarantee” there won’t be war.

Israel established a commission to examine the war. It found that Israel’s decision to enter the war was correct, but slammed the Government for the way it went about trying to achieve its war aims. Basically, the commission said, Israel should have gone in harder, with a full ground assault and less reliance on air power.

The resultant political crisis was temporarily defused by the replacement of the inept defence minister with Israel’s most decorated general, former prime minister Ehud Barak.

Meanwhile, Hamas has aped Hezbollah’s methods – from being funded by Iran, to firing rockets at Israel, to smuggling weapons, to building military infrastructure in civilian areas, to entering politics as an armed terrorist group and kidnapping soldiers.

On June 25 last year, Hamas entered Israeli territory, killed two Israeli soldiers and captured a third, Gilad Shalit, who is still in captivity. In June this year, it engineered a well-planned and Iranian-financed coup in Gaza.

The 18 months before the coup saw the world diplomatically boycott the Hamas-led Palestinian government. Hamas is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and refuses to recognise previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements. Despite this, in the 12 months after the elections, Palestinians received more aid than they did the year before.

Indeed, Palestinians have now received more money per capita than Europeans did under the Marshall Plan. Palestinians used much of that money to fund their ongoing war against Israel. Israel defended itself, notably by building a barrier between Palestinians and Israelis and closing the borders. This stopped suicide bombers but also trade, as a side effect. Combined with endemic Palestinian corruption, this ruined the Palestinian economy. Thus, terrorism caused Palestinian poverty, not the reverse.

The Gazan coup created two Palestinian entities. Gaza is an Islamist stronghold. Hamas is in charge, and has the responsibility to feed and employ 1.4 million heavily armed people. The question is whether reality will force moderation and see Hamas recognise and deal with Israel. The Taliban didn’t moderate. There’s little reason to believe Hamas will.

After the coup, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the government and installed an emergency cabinet. To Abbas’s credit, the respected former World Bank economist Salam Fayyad is the new prime minister. The corrupt goons have been dumped.

This government has effective control over the West Bank only, where Israel’s military presence prevented Hamas taking over. Its only chance at ending the corruption and getting the Palestinian Authority back on track lies in a parallel attempt to disarm the “security” and terrorist militias in the West Bank. These must be unified and they must actually police rather than turn their weapons on Israel or rival Palestinians.

Statements aside, the emergency government has done little, but it’s early days. Israel is making goodwill gestures and the world is opening its wallet. In 10 years, the world will look at 2007 as a pivotal year.

For Palestinians, it will be when they either took their first steps to responsible self-government or fated themselves to failure. For Lebanon, it will be whether it and the UN arrested the increasing strength of Hezbollah, thus preventing it from starting another war.

Bren Carlill is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Tags:

RELATED ARTICLES


(AP Photo/Baz Ratner, Pool)

What we can expect from President Biden

Jan 22, 2021 | Featured, Fresh AIR, In the media
Rouhani Biden

The Biden Administration’s challenge on Iran

Jan 19, 2021 | Featured, In the media
Forbesimg.com Imageserve 1195734540 0x0

History’s lessons vital to counter extremism

Jan 18, 2021 | Featured, In the media
Turkey Greece

Beware Turkey’s normalisation noise

Jan 7, 2021 | Featured, Fresh AIR, In the media
An Iranian man walks by a billboard of slain Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran, on November 30, 2020. (AFP)

We are at a pivotal moment for addressing the Iranian nuclear threat

Dec 15, 2020 | Featured, In the media
The funeral of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Teheran (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

How Biden (and Australia) should pressure Iran

Dec 3, 2020 | Featured, In the media

SIGN UP FOR AIJAC EMAILS

RECENT POSTS

(AP Photo/Baz Ratner, Pool)

What we can expect from President Biden

Rouhani Biden

The Biden Administration’s challenge on Iran

Forbesimg.com Imageserve 1195734540 0x0

History’s lessons vital to counter extremism

Iranian Protesters unveil a digital countdown showing 8411 days until Israel is destroyed (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Clive Williams’ misguided claims on Iran, Israel and the Trump Administration – a fisking

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who received Israel's first coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 19, was also present when Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab Jabarin became the millionth Israeli to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm on January 1, just two weeks later. Israel aims to innoculate all its eligible citizens by the end of March.

Israel’s vaccination success/ Iran’s 20 percent enrichment

(AP Photo/Baz Ratner, Pool)

What we can expect from President Biden

Rouhani Biden

The Biden Administration’s challenge on Iran

Forbesimg.com Imageserve 1195734540 0x0

History’s lessons vital to counter extremism

Iranian Protesters unveil a digital countdown showing 8411 days until Israel is destroyed (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Clive Williams’ misguided claims on Iran, Israel and the Trump Administration – a fisking

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who received Israel's first coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 19, was also present when Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab Jabarin became the millionth Israeli to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm on January 1, just two weeks later. Israel aims to innoculate all its eligible citizens by the end of March.

Israel’s vaccination success/ Iran’s 20 percent enrichment

SORT BY TOPICS