August 19, 2006
What is really portended by UN Security
Council Resolution 1701, which set the terms for the present
ceasefire in Lebanon? The very fact that it was signed at all
might be encouraging, but no one is sure what its actual impact
will be and most are sceptical. For Israel, will it secure the
outcome its leaders are (rather desperately) claiming they have
gained by this dreadful war - i.e., ultimate disarmament of Hizbullah?
For Lebanon and Hizbullah, will it secure Israel's withdrawal?
Either way, will it last?
More important than its precise
provisions are facts on the ground. On one side, Hizbullah is
"victorious" in defeating Israel's military ambitions,
but much of Lebanon itself is in ruins; peace for a traumatized
population is a matter of urgency. On the other side, the Israeli
military is chastened and Jewish Israel is shocked; more fruitless
loss of soldiers' lives has become political anathema. These
factors may cause the guns to stay silent where the resolution
itself could not.
But a close look at Resolution
1701 is still important because it says a great deal about the
politics of the moment. In practice, any Security Council (SC)
resolution is only as effective in attaining its goals as the
collective political will and capacity of its veto-wielding members
allow it to be. Some resolutions reflect more consensus than
others. Many confront limitations of the SC to enforce them.
Brooding divisions and chicanery within the SC can instill loopholes
or debilitating contradictions.
Even short-and-sweet SC resolutions
(a fraction the length of 1701) can be manipulated to create
a crucial loophole. One notorious example is SC Resolution 242,
passed just after the 1967 war when Israel had occupied the Gaza
Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the entire Sinai
Peninsula. Hard Israeli lobbying famously managed to extract
the crucial "the" from the English translation of the
otherwise blunt provision, "Withdrawal of
Israeli armed forces from [the] territories occupied in the recent
conflict." "Territories" in English is a general
term, and could mean "some territories". "The
territories" would mean "all territories". Israel's
maneuver on the definite article was therefore not sophistic:
it has allowed Israel to claim, to this day, that it satisfied
its obligations to comply with 242 by withdrawing from the Sinai
(in 1981), while retaining control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip,
and Golan Heights. (In all the other official UN languages, Resolution
242 still says "the territories", but apparently Israel
is accountable to international law only in English.)
Brought under the microscope,
what exactly does Resolution 1701 say? A line-by-line analysis
reveals that it is as full of pro-Israeli holes as a Swiss cheese.
It also has two significant pro-Lebanese holes. But the over-all
weight of the resolution indicates that Israel holds the crucial
card: whether and when to withdraw its forces from Lebanese territory.
Close study of the resolution also explains why Israel rushed
troops across the border in the days immediately preceding its
passage. Knowing the text, having consulted with the Americans
about its details, the Israeli government needed its troops in
place to make it work. The loopholes also suggest that the present
ceasefire, presently welcomed by two exhausted sides, may hold
only a few weeks.
"The Security Council,
Recalling all its previous
resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978),
426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), 1655 (2006), 1680 (2006)
and 1697 (2006), as well as the statements of its president on
the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statements of 18
June, 2000, of 19 October, 2004, of 4 May 2005, of 23 January
2006 and of 30 July 2006;"
Security Council resolutions
always open with reference to relevant prior resolutions, to
establish their juridical context. This one establishes Resolution
1701 within the legal history of prior resolutions on Lebanon.
It does not place the conflict in larger regional context, however,
which includes Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Israeli violence in enforcing that occupation is certainly intertwined
with Hizbullah's ideology, popular legitimacy, and its ongoing
militancy, as well as Lebanese government weakness. In the penultimate
paragraph, the Resolution does cite the need for a comprehensive
Middle East peace process based on Security Council resolutions
242 and 338.
"Expressing its utmost
concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon
and in Israel since Hezbollah's attack on Israel on 12 July 2006,
which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both
sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds
of thousands of internally displaced persons;"
This paragraph offers the first
of the Resolution's two empirical falsehoods. The conflict has
not "caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides."
It caused hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries on one
side and dozens on the other. Inscribing this false equation
into the text might seem a casual twist of language, but it is
an ominous footprint indicating the resolution's direction: endorsing
Israel's fictional narrative of symmetrical suffering bodes ill
for the agenda of later clauses. (It also does no service to
historians of UN interventions, who doubtless will unthinkingly
reproduce this falsehood for decades to come).
In similar vein, the paragraph
traces the "cause" of the conflict to a Hizbullah action,
described as an "attack on Israel", instead of Israel's
decision to respond to a minor border skirmish with a pre-planned
and massive assault on Lebanon's entire population and infrastructure.
This interpretation openly reproduces the Israel-Washington-London
axis of revisionist myths about how the conflict started. It
also suggests that the Lebanese government and Hizbullah were
willing to compromise on this language, probably on grounds that
capitulating to Israel's version of events would be compensated
by later substantive clauses that counterbalance it. But, again,
allowing the Security Council to inscribe empirical falsehoods
and Israel's version of events into international law is poor
law and poor planning. (The second instance of error, in Paragraph
8, is even more worrisome.)
"Emphasizing the need
for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasising the
need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the
current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the
abducted Israeli soldiers;
Mindful of the sensitivity
of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at
urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained
A prisoner exchange was the
reason for Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers, the event
cited by Israel as the casus belli. The question of prisoners
is therefore hardly peripheral to this conflict. Yet the Resolution
here inscribes a starkly asymmetrical standing to Israeli and
Lebanese prisoners. Hizbullah's capture of Israeli prisoners
is inscribed as one of "the causes that have given rise
to the current crisis". The Security Council itself will
therefore "address urgently" the plight of the two
"abducted" (captured) Israeli soldiers, by securing
their "unconditional release". By contrast, Lebanese
prisoners held in Israel, from previous incursions into Lebanon
by Israel, are not admitted to be a causal factor. Their plight
is only a matter of "sensitivity", whose urgent settlement
by other actors (unnamed) will be "encouraged." This
formula makes the Security Council itself responsible for the
Israeli soldiers' release, while leaving the release of Lebanese
prisoners to present players - i.e., Israel.
"Welcoming the efforts
of the Lebanese prime minister and the commitment of the government
of Lebanon, in its seven-point plan, to extend its authority
over its territory, through its own legitimate armed forces,
such that there will be no weapons without the consent of the
government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the
government of Lebanon, welcoming also its commitment to a UN
force that is supplemented and enhanced in numbers, equipment,
mandate and scope of operation, and bearing in mind its request
in this plan for an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces
from southern Lebanon;"
As Israel has insisted that
the Lebanese government assume sole authority over Lebanese territory,
this passage may seem friendly to Israel, eliminating Hizbullah's
military role and autonomy. Nevertheless, it provides the first
loophole favoring Lebanon, as the Lebanese government now includes
Hizbullah. "No authority other than that of the government
of Lebanon" will not be a problem for Hizbullah if it is
part of that government. (Indeed, the government could not have
signed this resolution without consulting with Hizbullah and
getting a general go-ahead.) The phrase, "no weapons without
the consent of the government of Lebanon", will not be a
problem for Hizbullah, either, because the government is likely
to give that consent. Moreover, as Hizbullah members are already
well diffused into the Lebanese army, friendly cooperation between
Hizbullah and the army is already evident and can be coordinated
under the authority of the central Lebanese government - which,
again, includes Hizbullah.
Knowing all this, the central
government itself does not face the unworkable challenge of confronting
Hizbullah's greater military and political force. The logistics
of integration, however, are clearly difficult. Fusing Hizbullah's
military wing into the Lebanese army is especially delicate,
as Hizbullah has jealously guarded its military secrets even
from the communities adjacent to its installations. Fusion might
therefore have to be managed by reconstituting Hizbullah's military
wing as a branch or special force of the army, to preserve its
Hizbullah, however, is out of the question: no Lebanese authority
has the power to do that. Reflecting this reality, the government
of Lebanon has already redefined Hizbullah as a "resistance"
group, not a "militia", and therefore exempt from the
provisions of Security Council Resolution 1559 (which requires
all "militias" to disarm). This maneuver allows Lebanon's
unity government to comply with Resolution 1559 by "consenting"
to Hizbullah's continuing to bear weapons - or at least, so the
But a twist, embedded in the
last phrase, undercuts Lebanon's achievement in this paragraph.
"Immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces" is phrasing
friendly to Lebanon's urgent desires. It is prefaced, however,
with the debilitating word "request". Given Israel's
violation of international law and the UN Charter in invading
a neighboring state, the Security Council should "demand"
or "instruct" Israel to withdraw immediately, not "request"
it to do so. In this phrasing, Israel is not required to withdraw
and the Security Council is not charged with enforcing its withdrawal.
This formula therefore leaves Israel in charge of its own withdrawal.
If Hizbullah retains its arms, Israel would not consider itself
obligated to withdraw.
"Determined to act for
this withdrawal to happen at the earliest;"
This short phrase is both vague
and strange, not even grammatically complete in English. "Act
for" is foggy in English, connoting a general effort. The
French version also offers unspecified and passive constructions:
"Determined to act in such a way that this withdrawal happen
as soon as possible" ("Déterminé à
agir de telle sorte que ce retrait intervienne le plus tôt
possible"). Even for a preface, where general formulas are
normal, this clause lacks both specificity and especially agency:
the withdrawal will simply happen. The lack of agency regarding
any monitoring or enforcement of Israel's withdrawal shapes the
rest of the Resolution.
"Taking due note of the
proposals made in the seven-point plan regarding the Shebaa farms
"Taking due note"
offers formal recognition that this plan exists. But it does
not indicate that the Security Council endorses the seven-point
plan, nor does it clarify that the plan will comprise the basis
for any further discussions. (The Resolution's operative reference
to the Shebaa farms, in Paragraph 10, makes no mention of this
"Welcoming the unanimous
decision by the government of Lebanon on 7 August 2006 to deploy
a Lebanese armed force of 15,000 troops in south Lebanon as the
Israeli army withdraws behind the Blue Line and to request the
assistance of additional forces from Unifil as needed, to facilitate
the entry of the Lebanese armed forces into the region and to
restate its intention to strengthen the Lebanese armed forces
with material as needed to enable it to perform its duties;"
"As the Israeli army withdraws"
implies a confused process whereby the Israeli army will withdraw
while the Lebanese army arrives. But the sequencing is muddy.
Is the Lebanese army to arrive while Israeli troops are still
in place, so that no vacuum of power occurs? Is the Lebanese
army to take over positions only as Israel withdraws from them?
Is the Lebanese army's arrival a sufficient condition for Israel's
withdrawal, or is Hizbullah's disappearance (impossible) also
necessary? Again, it is left to Israel to judge when to withdraw.
It is easy to imagine that any Hizbullah attack on Israeli troops,
or even unspecified trouble for Israeli forces, would give Israel
a pretext to delay withdrawal.
"Aware of its responsibilities
to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution
to the conflict;
"Determining that the
situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace
1. Calls for a full cessation
of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation
by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel
of all offensive military operations;"
In the key word "offensive,"
Paragraph 1 offers the lethal phrasing that explains Israel's
rush to gain ground in the days immediately preceding passage
of this resolution. Once holding substantial Lebanese territory,
Israel can define its military actions not as "offensive"
but as defensive, pending its withdrawal. But the conditions
for its withdrawal must be satisfactory to Israel; the Resolution
establishes no external authority to compel Israel's withdrawal
or any sanctions if it does not.
Obviously, by international
criteria regarding territorial aggression and belligerent occupation,
it is nonsense for Israel to be occupying Lebanon while claiming
not to be in an offensive military posture. But it has been equal
nonsense for nuclear-power Israel to describe its attack on Lebanon,
in the name of crushing a local guerrilla group, as a war for
Israel's own survival. In most diplomacy, Israel has also consistently
denied that it is in a condition of "belligerent occupation"
of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel's capacity to claim any
action as "defense" is well-established in the diplomatic
"2. Upon full cessation
of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and Unifil
as authorised by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together
throughout the South and calls upon the government of Israel,
as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from
southern Lebanon in parallel;"
"[A]s that deployment
begins" could suggest that Israel is supposed to withdraw
its forces immediately upon the entry of Lebanese and Unifil
forces into the region. But, again, "in parallel" is
confusing: in parallel with what? The mere arrival of Lebanese
army forces? Or the effective replacement (i.e., removal) Hizbullah
forces from southern Lebanon? Since Hizbullah will not imaginably
be removed from southern Lebanon, "in parallel" could
leave Israel's forces in place, according to its own assessment
of "parallel" conditions, for weeks or months. (As
noted, overwhelming domestic Israeli pressure to withdraw from
Lebanon may trump the plan suggested here.)
"3. Emphasises the importance
of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon
over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions
of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of
the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise
its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without
the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other
than that of the government of Lebanon;"
Israel clearly wants Hizbullah
to lose all capacity to launch attacks against Israel. But since
the Lebanese government can "consent" to Hizbullah's
remaining armed, as part of a newly centralized military authority,
this phrasing could serve both the government and Hizbullah.
The paragraph suggests that Hizbullah has agreed that any attack
on Israel will be made only with agreement by the Lebanese government
and not on its own sole authority as a party or resistance group.
(However, Hizbullah has already declared an exception: it reserves
the right to attack Israeli troops as long as they remain in
Lebanon. Doubtless Hizbullah accurately perceives the risks of
the Resolution and its faith is likely to be low.)
Unifying the Lebanese government
authority over foreign policy is not only necessary to holding
Lebanon together but is also an important evolution in the state's
integration. Historically, the Lebanese government has lacked
both the capacity and the interest necessary to disarm Hizbullah,
a force much more powerful than the state's own armed forces
and that enjoys significant legitimacy in Lebanon as the sole
effective deterrent to Israeli aggression. (Flagging in the post-Hariri
era, its legitimacy has now been enormously pumped up by Israel's
ruinous invasion of the country.) Lebanon is hardly unique in
this weakness. Many weak states lack the capacity to control
armed groups operating from their territories (several African
states come to mind). They may even tacitly support the presence
of such groups, if those groups operate as extra-legal (and plausibly
deniable) instruments of the government's foreign policy.
But centralizing authority
over foreign policy, especially to wage war or launch attacks
on other states, is a state-building project incumbent on all
nation-states. Hizbullah was brought into the government in the
last election; the next step would normally be fusion of its
armed wing into the state's armed forces. (We might recall that
the precursor to the United States federal system, the Confederation
of the thirteen colonies, ran into similar problems regarding
Indian wars in the eighteenth century. New York's wars with the
Iroquois and Georgia's wars with the Cherokee, launched on their
own authority, drained the treasuries of the other states. The
problem contributed significantly to the thirteen states' willingness
to adopt the Constitution of 1789, which authorized only the
federal government to govern relations with the "Indian
"4. Reiterates its strong
support for full respect for the Blue Line;
"5. Also reiterates its
strong support, as recalled in all its previous relevant resolutions,
for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence
of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as
contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement
of 23 March 1949;"
These clauses are nice but
worrisomely vague. The term "full respect for the Blue Line"
suggests the mutual termination of incursions or cross-border
actions. But it does not specify how "full respect"
is to be expressed - for example, whether it would require Israel
to terminate its low-altitude flights over Lebanon, which have
regularly broken the sound barrier over southern Lebanese cities.
Nor does it address the question of prisoners.
"6. Calls on the international
community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and
humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through
facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under
the authority of the government of Lebanon, reopening airports
and harbours, consistent with paragraphs 14 and 15, and calls
on it also to consider further assistance in the future to contribute
to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;"
This paragraph might seem friendly
to Lebanon, too, until we consider it in context. First, it makes
the international community financially responsible for "reopening
airports and harbours," rather than Israel, which wrecked
them. Israel has no responsibility at all, in this resolution,
for providing financial, logistical or any other help in reconstructing
the rest of Lebanon.
Second and more subtly, the
paragraph actually confirms Israel's authority to stall any such
rebuilding, or selectively to impede it, since loopholes in the
rest of the resolution leave it up to Israel to determine when
"the authority of the government of Lebanon" has been
truly imposed. By linking Lebanon's reconstruction to paragraphs
14 and 15 (below), Paragraph 6 confirms that rebuilding Lebanon
must not translate into Hizbullah's resupplying and rebuilding
its military capacity in the south. If Israel deems that rebuilding
is serving Hizbullah's military capacity (which it doubtless
will, as Hizbullah and the army will necessarily collaborate
in reconstructing the demolished cities, villages, and infrastructure
in the Shi'a south and Beirut suburbs), then the Israeli military
can declare itself authorized to stop or even bomb those reconstruction
efforts. Since Israel is occupying southern Lebanon precisely
to monitor this process, it will be in position to halt the reconstruction
at its discretion.
Aside from Hizbullah's arms,
the phrase "under the authority of the government of Lebanon"
gives Israel another point of leverage. Even if Hizbullah as
a political party is involved in the rebuilding - which, again,
being well-embedded among the southern Shi'a, it will inevitably
be - then Israel can declare that the "authority of the
government" has not been effectively imposed. The Lebanese
government might protest that argument on grounds that Hamas
is a legitimate Lebanese party. But Israel has similarly rejected
the presence of Hamas in the Palestinian government, and, like
Hamas, has declared Hizbullah a "terrorist organization".
Israel would be consistent in rejecting the Lebanese government's
insistence that Hizbullah must be considered a legitimate player
and treating any involvement or presence by Hizbullah as a failure
to impose full Lebanese state authority.
"7. Affirms that all parties
are responsible for ensuring that no action is taken contrary
to paragraph 1 that might adversely affect the search for a long-term
solution, humanitarian access to civilian populations, including
safe passage for humanitarian convoys, or the voluntary and safe
return of displaced persons, and calls on all parties to comply
with this responsibility and to cooperate with the Security Council;"
This paragraph focuses narrowly
on urgent humanitarian concerns, which is welcome and essential.
But it does not compel Israel or anyone else to pursue a "long-term
solution". It only affirms that parties are responsible
for not acting in any way that would "adversely affect"
the "search" for one. (This phrasing is reminiscent
of "peace process" language that calls on Israel not
to act in any way that will "prejudice final status talks"
regarding withdrawal from the Palestinian territories. Israel
has roundly ignored those calls for decades.)
"8. Calls for Israel and
Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution
based on the following principles and elements:
· Full respect for the
Blue Line by both parties;"
"Respect" is inoperably
vague: see above.
· "security arrangements
to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment
between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of
any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the
government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorised in paragraph
11, deployed in this area;"
This clause makes the Lebanese
government and UNIFIL responsible for ensuring that Hizbullah
is not re-armed.
"Full implementation of
the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions
1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of
all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese
cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or
authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;"
This clause provides the second
serious distortion of history. The Taif Agreement (1989, clause
2.1 A) and Resolution 1559 (paragraph 3) did not call for disarming
all "armed groups" but rather all "militias".
It is startling that the international community allowed this
alteration of facts (here, the diplomatic record). But its purpose
is plain. Deliberate misquotation of both agreements undercuts
the Lebanese government's maneuver cited earlier: to evade obligations
to disarm Hizbullah by redefining Hizbullah as a "resistance"
"· No foreign forces
in Lebanon without the consent of its government;"
This subsection is friendly
to the Lebanese government, implying that Israeli forces cannot
legally invade again. But the clause does not actually go beyond
the UN Charter and international law prohibiting exactly such
behavior, which Israel has violated repeatedly in Lebanon on
grounds of self-defense, so it does not really manifest as more
robust here. Also, Israel has in the past implicitly defined
Hizbullah as "foreign forces" in being an instrument
of Iran, so it could conceivably declare the clause violated
and violate it itself.
"· No sales or
supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized
by its government;"
This clause favors Israel,
but it will also serve to strengthen the central Lebanese government
in the positive sense observed earlier. The problem is the Lebanese
government's capacity to enforce it, which is dubious. At what
degree of failure would Israel declare this condition violated?
Major rearmament of Hizbullah's southern positions? Or simply
interception of a single truck carrying Katyushas?
"· Provision to
the United Nations of all remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon
in Israel's possession;"
The clause seems to favor the
Lebanese, who urgently need these maps. However, it is formulated
not as Israel's immediate obligation but as a "principle
or element" associated with a "long-term solution".
Since Israel understands a "long-term solution" only
as the entire evaporation of Hizbullah, providing the maps of
land mines is left conditional on an outcome not likely to emerge.
"9. Invites the secretary
general to support efforts to secure as soon as possible agreements
in principle from the government of Lebanon and the government
of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution
as set forth in paragraph 8, and expresses its intention to be
Translation: The hapless Secretary
General is charged with monitoring and facilitating this mess
of an agreement.
"10. Requests the secretary
general to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors
and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant
provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and
1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the
international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where
the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with
the Shebaa farms area, and to present to the Security Council
those proposals within 30 days;"
Translation: The Secretary
General is also charged with developing further proposals. Disposition
of the Shebaa farms area is left to later negotiations, with
no mention of the seven-point plan.
"11. Decides, in order
to supplement and enhance the force in numbers, equipment, mandate
and scope of operations, to authorize an increase in the force
strength of Unifil to a maximum of 15,000 troops, and that the
force shall, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions
425 and 426 (1978):
a. Monitor the cessation of
b. Accompany and support the
Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including
along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from
Lebanon as provided in paragraph 2;
c. Coordinate its activities
related to paragraph 11 (b) with the government of Lebanon and
the government of Israel;
d. Extend its assistance to
help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the
voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
e. Assist the Lebanese armed
forces in taking steps towards the establishment of the area
as referred to in paragraph 8;
f. Assist the government of
Lebanon, at its request, to implement paragraph 14;"
According to these provisions,
UNIFIL will play an expanded role in monitoring Hizbullah's disarmament,
the Lebanese army's takeover, and the country's reconstruction.
The measure seems to provide Israel with a guarantor of Hizbullah's
marginalization, and the Lebanese government with a friendly
international force that can monitor and even oppose any Israeli
intervention. But the confusions and contradictions cited in
earlier passages indicate a crucial weakness for UNIFIL regarding
these jobs. Consider the dilemma: UNIFIL is charged with supporting
the Lebanese army's deployment in the south, although deployment
is not clearly contingent on Israel's withdrawal. UNIFIL must
also prevent any rearmament by Hizbullah, southern Lebanon's
primary military power, although it has no military or intelligence
capacity to do. It will assist in securing "humanitarian
access to civilian populations" and the return of refugees,
but has no authority to engage Israeli forces if Israel impedes
those efforts. A more unenviable position is difficult to imagine.
"12. Acting in support
of a request from the government of Lebanon to deploy an international
force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory,
authorizes Unifil to take all necessary action in areas of deployment
of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure
that its area of operations is not utilised for hostile activities
of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent
it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security
Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities,
installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom
of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers,
and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the government
of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical
Recognizing UNIFIL's dilemma,
the Resolution now seems to strengthen UNIFIL's role. But read
closely, it only loads UNIFIL with more unmanageable duties.
Since UNIFIL is based entirely in southern Lebanon, its primary
responsibility-to "ensure that its area of operations is
not utilized for hostile activities of any kind"-pertains
solely to containing Hizbullah. Regarding Israel, its charge
"to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical
violence" seems to give it authority to repel Israeli attacks
on Lebanese civilians, but this role is undercut by two factors:
(a) Israel's standard claim that it hits civilians only by accident
during necessary military engagement with Hizbullah, such that
it would reject UNIFIL's role in repelling actions ostensibly
aimed at military targets "using civilians as shelter";
and (b) UNIFIL's obvious logistical inability to do anything
about Israeli aggression of any kind. Since the rest of the resolution
provides multiple loopholes for Israeli aggression (e.g., redefining
it as "defense"), this clause sets up UNIFIL for failure
to protect civilians.
Most strikingly, the resolution
makes no mention of Israel's relationship to UNIFIL or its responsibility
to respect UNIFIL's authority in fulfilling its mission. In other
words, UNIFIL is the same feeble instrument it has been for decades.
"13. Requests the secretary
general urgently to put in place measures to ensure Unifil is
able to carry out the functions envisaged in this resolution,
urges member states to consider making appropriate contributions
to Unifil and to respond positively to requests for assistance
from the Force, and expresses its strong appreciation to those
who have contributed to Unifil in the past;"
Translation: The international
community will fund and assist UNIFIL.
14. Calls upon the government
of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent
the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel
and requests Unifil as authorised in paragraph 11 to assist the
government of Lebanon at its request;
"15. Decides further that
all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their
nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels
a. the sale or supply to any
entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel
of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles
and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the
aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories,
b. the provision to any entity
or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance
related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of
the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these
prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training
or assistance authorised by the government of Lebanon or by Unifil
as authorised in paragraph 11;"
These paragraphs target Israel's
core concerns. They require full disarmament of Hizbullah as
well as termination of related support to Hizbullah by its allies.
Being linked to Paragraph 6, however, these provisions also make
"reopening [Lebanon's] airports and harbors" contingent
both. Since covert external support to Hizbullah is virtually
certain, and therefore easy for Israel to claim whether Israel
has direct evidence or not, this construction gives Israel a
standing legal mechanism through which to block the reconstruction
of Lebanon for whatever reason it might have.
"16. Decides to extend
the mandate of Unifil until 31 August 2007, and expresses its
intention to consider in a later resolution further enhancements
to the mandate and other steps to contribute to the implementation
of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;
17. Requests the secretary
general to report to the Council within one week on the implementation
of this resolution and subsequently on a regular basis;
18. Stresses the importance
of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting
peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions
including its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and
338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;
19. Decides to remain actively
seized of the matter.
Translation: the Security Council
intends to keep this tattered process running.
To summarize, Resolution 1701
reflects a legal coup for Israel and the United States. On its
face, it seems even-handed, providing for an Israeli withdrawal,
pacification of Hizbullah, restoration of Lebanese sovereignty,
and conditions that allow for Lebanon's reconstruction. It actually
provides Israel with ultimate leverage over its own withdrawal,
contingent on disarming Hizbullah.
Most seriously, regarding the
UN itself, the Resolution fails to condemn Israel for violating
international law in its onslaught on Lebanon. It also fails
to establish any basis for a serious peace process. It represents
a twisted, tricky document, representing machinations of the
United States in service to the neocon alliance with Israel to
"remake" the Middle East. Its provisions to disarm
Hizbullah are politically unworkable and beyond the SC's capacity.
Its provisions for Israeli withdrawal are contingent on that
Regarding its relevance to
a real peace in Lebanon, within days or weeks of this writing
Resolution 1701 may be a discredited artefact of history. But
its design remains significant: inability of the SC to act in
a principled fashion to impose international order. In that light,
it tells us far more about the internal debility of the UN than
it does about any future for the Israeli-Lebanese conflict.
Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science,
a US citizen working in South Africa, and author of The
One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian
Deadlock (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University
Press, 2005). She can be reached at email@example.com.