Israel’s Stance on Lebanon Blockade Begins to Erode

The deployment of more UNIFIL troops and the Lebanese diplomatic discourse weaken Israel’s stance on maintaining the siege and its troops in Lebanon to prevent weapons smuggling from Syria to Hizbullah.

While new UNIFIL forces are arriving to deploy in southern Lebanon and more contributions are on their way,1 the Lebanese government decided to protest to the U.N. Security Council over Israel's blockade of the country.2 Lebanese legislators have also been protesting at the Lebanese Parliament building. Furthermore, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced a plan that could lift the blockade within 48 hours since leaders he met on his current Mideast trip had told him that the embargo was the single biggest impediment to beginning Lebanon's recovery.3

Israel has stated that it is not required under UNSCR 1701 to withdraw all its forces and terminate its blockade until Lebanese borders are secured to prevent weapons shipments to Hezbollah. UNIFIL has stated that it will not deploy along the Lebanese-Syrian border unless requested by the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Lebanon has stated that it will not do so.

As more and more international forces arrive and international pressure on Israel increases to lift the siege, Israel will face an intensifying dilemma regarding whether to:

  1. maintain its troop presence and blockade in order to prevent the re-arming of Hizbullah via Syria and suffer international de-legitimization; or
  2. withdraw its troops and lift the siege and risk the rearmament of Hizbullah.

Sources

1 “UN ranks begin to swell in Lebanon,” Christian Science Monitor (5/09/06). See the full article.

2Lebanon to protest Israel’s blockade,” Washington Post (5/09/06). See the full article.

3Annan Working to Lift Israeli Blockade of Lebanon ,” New York Times(5/09/06). See the full article.