Israel wants out of South Lebanon

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Khalil Marwan

Dhu al-Hijjah 04, 1418 1998-04-01

Occupied Arab World

by Khalil Marwan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 3, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1418)

Twenty years after Israel first invaded Lebanon, and sixteen years after their troops smashed their way to the gates of Beirut before being pushed back to a ‘buffer zone’ in the south of the country, they appear to have had enough and want out. This astonishing admission of defeat came from none other than Ariel Sharon, infrastructure minister in the current Zionist government and architect of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon when he was Israel’s defence minister.

In a television interview on March 15, Sharon said, ‘I suggest a redeployment, after a warning and an announcement of very clear steps, from part of the zone so the Lebanese [army] can enter.’ He made no mention of any negotiations with either Lebanon or Syria over the terms of the ‘withdrawal’. Sharon’s proposal was discussed by the Israeli cabinet in its weekly meeting the following day [March 16] but no decision was taken. Both Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence minister Yitzhak Mordechai have made similar statements, aware that their military position in South Lebanon is untenable. They have been trying to extricate themselves from the Lebanese imbroglio under various pretexts for some time now. Neither the Sharon proposal nor Netanyahu’s statements are new. Sharon voiced similar concerns last September after 12 Israeli naval commandos were ambushed and killed by the Hizbullah. They had been trying to land on the Lebanese coast north of the occupied area on an assassination mission. That was the deadliest blow delivered to the Zionists in a single operation since 1985.

The zionists are used to killing civilians but unable to take military casualties. The entire Israeli society was gripped by a frenzy of grief for weeks. On February 4, 1997, two Israeli military helicopters collided as they took off on a killing mission in Lebanon. On that occasion, 73 Israeli soldiers died.

1997 was a bad year for Israeli occupation forces in Lebanon. A record 39 soldiers were killed in action, and the ‘security zone’ was dubbed the zone of insecurity. Aware of this, Netanyahu has said he is ready to pull out if Lebanon pledges to ensure security in the area.

‘We are ready to leave Lebanon if the basic terms of UN Security Council Resolution 425 are applied, that is, if the Lebanese government guarantees peace and security,’ Israeli public radio quoted Netanyahu as saying on March 16. That resolution, passed in March 1978, demands an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the whole of Lebanon. Hitherto, the Zionists had refused even to acknowledge its existence, much less its validity. Netanyahu’s statement was welcomed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Beirut on March 20. Speaking during a short tour of the region, which also included a visit to Tel Aviv, Annan said that although the UN could not enforce its resolution, it welcomed the change of circumstances by which its demands could be met. Annan did not attempt to explain why resolutions against Israel could not be enforced while others, such as those against Iraq, could be.

The defeat of the zionists in Lebanon has not been at the hands of the Lebanese army, the Syrian army or even a combination of Arab armies. The zionists and their Christian local surrogates, the South Lebanese Army (SLA), have been driven out of Lebanon by the fighters of the Islamic Resistance led by the Hizbullah. The Hizbullah drove the Israelis back from Beirut in the eighties, and have maintained pressure on them ever since. In the process they have also developed social and political institutions in much of southern Lebanon. Their’s is an achievement of immense significance. Lest the zionist announcement be misunderstood, it is not as if they have suddenly become peaceniks. Peace and zionism are mutually exclusive as their gory record in the Middle East shows. Even prior to the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948, the zionists were busy killing innocent civilians. Murder, mayhem and theft have been their trade marks. While calling for ‘withdrawal’ from South Lebanon, Sharon reiterated that Israel intended ‘to finish off the job’ of killing Khaled Meshal, leader of the political wing of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance group in Palestine. Meshal was the target of an unsuccessful Mossad assassination attempt in Amman on September 25.

Amman’s concern at Sharon’s statements seemed limited to the implications for its friendship with Israel. ‘We denounce these statements which we consider a threat to our security and we will take the appropriate action,’ acting prime minister Abdullah Ensour said on March 16. ‘Such statements could have serious repercussions on our relations.’

The Jordanian regime may not care much about the safety of its own citizens but the Zionists have negotiating with the French to provide protection to their surrogates, the SLA. Last month, its head, general Antoine Lahad, and Uri Librani, Israel’s chief coordinator for Lebanon, met French officials in Paris. While Lahad has denied that the question of his asylum was discussed, he admitted that he has a home in Paris and his wife and children reside there. Other SLA leaders have homes in Israel itself.

Meanwhile, hundreds of innocent Lebanese Muslims remain in the notorious Khiam concentration camp, where conditions are appalling and torture commonplace. Whether any deal for Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon will include their release remains to be seen.

Muslimedia: April 1-15, 1998

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