August 17, 2006
Talal Salman appeals for unity, lest Israel be given by default what it failed to achieve through arms
Lebanon has not been defeated in the Israeli war against our country -- a war that is not yet over -- despite the heavy human and material wounds we sustained.
National unity, at both the popular and governmental level, has been one of the bulwarks of the Lebanese resistance in its valiant struggle against the Israeli enemy. The strength of the resistance, backed by national solidarity, has rocked Israel's belief that it is the only stable entity in a region where impotent regimes are the focus of popular anger, where they invite military occupation, as occurred in Iraq, or foreign domination, as is the case in most other parts of the Arab world.
The Lebanese people, training under the wanton destruction of their infrastructure, their means of livelihood and their ability to achieve progress, have the right to be assured that their government will stand firm and united against Israel's attempts to impose, through non-military means and in accordance with its own reading, Security Council Resolution 1701, conditions that it had failed to accomplish by force during its five-week long campaign that has turned nearly half the country into a scorched and desolate wasteland and almost accomplished what Israel said was one of its objectives -- "to turn back the clock in Lebanon 30 years".
The Lebanese have a right to rest assured that their enemy will abide by the cessation of hostilities. This need is all the more urgent in view of the suspicions raised, on the eve of the implementation of the resolution, by a night of widespread aerial raids and the reverberation of missiles. Meanwhile, in the south, the people -- or those who remain -- witnessed the ongoing attempts of Israeli forces to seize hostages and to create a new reality on the ground, in defiance of even the most biased interpretation of the provisions of the UN resolution, the draft text of which, as the Israeli foreign minister boasted, was "written in Hebrew" and served as the template for negotiations over the final version.
The "reward" that has been offered to the resistance is not commensurate with the unprecedented historical achievement it has accomplished in Lebanon, and for the Arabs. The resistance single-handedly took on this powerful enemy, whose army ranks the fifth strongest in the world, and prevented it from achieving the kind of speedy victories to which it had become accustomed in past wars against Arab armies.
We have yet to ascertain that Israel will abide by the provisions of Resolution 1701, and our past experience of Israel does not inspire confidence in the sincerity of its commitment to international resolutions. It is no coincidence that the new resolution referred to a range of old resolutions, most of which remain unimplemented and Israel's occupation forces remain entrenched exactly where their tanks first took them.
The resistance is a weapon at the service of the entire nation. It has never acted against anyone but the Israeli occupation. Hizbullah has never threatened to turn it against a party that it might consider an adversary or rival. Indeed, the vast majority of the Lebanese people were taken by surprise by the sheer scope and efficacy of the resistance, as they were by the heroic bravery of the fighters in its ranks. Never before had Israel suffered such a drastic toll in its wars against the Arabs, with the exception of the 1973 War.
The solidity of our national unity will not be guaranteed by now turning exclusively to the leadership of the resistance, still embroiled in the confrontation, which grew more ferocious on the eve of the resolution than at any point during the enemy's five-week long aggression.
The Lebanese people and the Lebanese government withstood this war by standing as one and by demonstrating their mutual support. People in areas not struck by the flames of war opened their hearts and homes to those whose houses had been destroyed by the barbaric Israeli assault on Lebanese towns and villages and the southern suburbs of Beirut. In a similar spirit the Lebanese rallied behind their government as it waged political and diplomatic battles. Members of the opposition reined in their opposition and critics held their tongue in keeping with the consensus to support the government in its role as the other face of the resistance to Israeli belligerence.
Why, then, this hasty demand to implement a provision the time for which has yet to come? Our enemy has yet to prove that it can commit itself to any international resolution. It has informed us, through its raids, troop deployments and military manoeuvres that it plans to use the military occupation that it achieved by virtue of the international resolution in order to propel us towards the quagmire of internal strife. This, it hopes, will keep us too preoccupied to concern ourselves with the withdrawal of occupation forces. Then, eventually, it will be able to convert a temporary situation into a permanent one and, simultaneously, to paint us as beyond the pale of international legitimacy.
It is not important when the cabinet meets, but why. More important yet is that it meets beneath the banner of national unity, for otherwise we will only be helping the Israelis gain what they failed to accomplish through their inhuman display of force.