Bringing peace to Israel

The report on the fighting in Lebanon delivered Thursday by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan was disappointing for a variety of reasons.

• It called for an immediate cease-fire without insisting on the return of captured Israeli soldiers — the trigger that detonated the fighting — as a precondition.

• It failed to mention Syria and Iran, the state sponsors of Hezbollah.

• It failed to focus on the root cause of the problem — the terrorist organizations and their incessant harassment of Israel.

To be sure, Mr. Annan rightly cited ”Hezbollah’s provocative attack of July 12” as the cause of the crisis. He also deplored Hezbollah’s actions because they ”hold an entire nation (Lebanon) hostage.” This point of view coincides with the extraordinary statement issued in Russia earlier in the week by the leaders of the G-8 nations that also put the blame for the crisis in northern Israel and Lebanon squarely on the responsible party: Hezbollah.

That is why it makes no sense to call for an instant cessation of hostilities that would leave Hezbollah free to move back in southern Lebanon and free to renew hostilities at a time of its choosing.

Instead, Israel and the international community should focus on a larger solution that removes Hezbollah from the southern border region next to Israel.

This would eliminate a threat that is keeping roughly 12 percent of the Israeli population in underground bunkers to avoid terrorist missiles. Better yet, the international community must take decisive action to enforce Provisions 3 and 4 of Security Council Resolution 1559 of 2004.

It called for ”disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias” and allowing the government of Lebanon to exercise control over its entire national territory. The measure was part of a larger effort to drive Syria out of Lebanon.

Clearly, the Security Council understands that the existence of these militias — a veiled reference to Hezbollah — represents a threat to the region. Today’s fighting is a testament to the failure of well-intended resolutions that lack an enforcement mechanism.

Indeed, a U.N. security force has existed in southern Lebanon since 1978, but it had no teeth. The group had no authority to disarm the militias. Now its members are fleeing the area along with hundreds of thousands of civilian refugees from the region.

The next U.N. force sent to Lebanon should be both well-armed and, like the multinational force in Afghanistan, be endowed with a clear mandate to drive troublemakers out of the area. As long as terrorist groups are given free rein to plot attacks and carry them out at will from a self-designated safe haven, there will be no peace in the region.

From the Miami Herald