Wednesday, December 31, 1997

The Lebanon Discussion in Israeli Society and in the Israeli Peace Movement

Israeli losses in Lebanon have created pressure on the government and other advocates of the IDF presence in the misnamed “security zone.” The pressure has even served as the background for the development of new forms of protest by women, especially mothers of soldiers serving in Lebanon. Public opinion is thus divided along two sharp lines: those supporting a unilateral withdrawal and those defending the status quo.The lines of the argument are clear and revolve around the question as to whether the said retreat will encourage the Hezbollah to utilize the tactical advantages stemming from the IDF retreat in order to launch bigger and better attacks on the Israeli communities in the north.
A Number of General Considerations
The current discussion, with its narrow tactical focus, leads to some sort of built-in draw. The whole argument of “what will the Syrians do” and “what will the Hizballah do” is based on the premise that the Lebanese issue can be treated in isolation from the battle to overcome the historical roots of Israeli strategic thinking as part of the struggle for an Israeli policy that can lead to a comprehensive peace.
I The Israeli Presence in Lebanon
The propensity to disregard the importance of Arab sovereignty over Arab land.This not a totally decisive element, especially when our opponents talk in militar-technical terms. But certainly, given a need to choose between options, it is certainly important to state that the flippant attitude that denies that this is a problem is part and parcel of the conservative thought patterns the are blind to options asides from military response.
This kind of shallowness refuses to see the dangers involved in intervention in the internal affairs of Lebanon. Almost a thousand Israli deaths can be ascribed to the dangerous conception that Israel can determine the composition of the government in Beirut. Isn’t the TSADAL combination one of the remnants of this dangerous conception. Will we end up in another war in Lebanon to defend our defenders? Is it strange that Tsadal has political clout in the present discussion on the side of the status quo?Why Not A Negotiated Withdrawal?
The policies of the Netanyahu government are the main reason that a negotiated withdrawal (and its advantages) is not on the agenda.
1. Syria is important, but we all agree that the stalemate in the Syrian-Israeli relations stems from Israel’s intransigence regarding both the tactical question “from where to resume the negotiations” and the central question: illusions that Israel can have peace while keeping the Golan. Israel can demand and receive important security arrangments that will prevent the use of the Golan against it.
2. No serious efforts were ever made in the diplomatic field to reach a negotiated settlement on withdrawal with the Hizballa – because of the hollow slogans that you cannot negotiate with terrorists.
In these circumstances, the present war in Lebanon is a continuation of the optional war that serves as its background. It is totally illogical to oppose the Netanyahu government which bears major responsibility for the suffocation of the peace process on all major fronts and ask the dove constitu
It is illogical to the point of being immoral to back Netanyahu in Lebanon, because his policies have created an overall stalemate that appears to have no solution.
Noting the negative effect of the policies of the Netanyahu government in creating a stalemate in the entire peace process, and noting the negative effect of these policies on progress in the Israeli-Syrian negotiation and noting the absence of any government initiative for a negotiated withdrawal from Lebanon:
Noting that Israeli soldiers are dying in futile war that cannot be won, PN-Jm calls for an early unilateral withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon in order to defend Israel’ northern border from the international in conformity to international law, including Israel’s right of defense against aggression.