A draft policy statement that could secure Hizbullah’s existence as an armed organization and guarantees its right to “liberate or recover occupied lands” is expected to be approved by the Lebanese council of ministers on Monday before being presented to the parliament in the coming days.
Some observers in Lebanon see the clause on “resistance” as a significant victory for Hizbullah, which has long resisted giving up its arms in its fight against Israel.
“Lebanese officials from the president down had always legitimized Hizbullah’s resistance as a national cause,” Timur Goksel, a former senior UNIFIL adviser/spokesman who now teaches in Lebanon about Middle Eastern conflict, told reporters on Sunday.
“This time, a vehemently anti-Hizbullah government – led by a majority that has significant Western support – has put its signature to a clause that allows Hizbullah to take actions in the fields listed without seeking government approval,” Goksel said.
“It also puts an end to any dreams of disarming Hizbullah. It secures Hizbullah’s armed existence.”
Government sources in Jerusalem said the decision would make the government in Beirut an accomplice to any Hizbullah aggression and give Israel the right to hold it responsible.
During the Second Lebanon War, Israel came under international pressure not to harm Lebanon’s infrastructure because it was Hizbullah, not the Lebanese government, that killed several IDF soldiers and supposedly kidnapped reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in a cross border raid in July 2006.
The argument that the Lebanese government should not be held accountable for Hizbullah provocations would lose all weight if the government decision is approved, the sources said. The sources added that the pending decision was also an indication of Hizbullah’s strong position inside the Lebanese government.
The sources said that while it was unlikely that the decision would have any immediate operative significance for Israel, it could lead Jerusalem to launch a diplomatic campaign explaining to the international community that it meant the Lebanese government could be held responsible for Hizbullah aggressions.
No decision to launch such a campaign had yet been taken, the sources said.
According to the Lebanese draft statement, its government emphasizes “the right of Lebanon, its people, army and resistance to liberate or recover the occupied Shaba Farms [Mount Dov], Kafr Shuba Hills and the Lebanese sector of Ghajar village; and to defend Lebanon against any aggression… by all legitimate and available means,” according to the Lebanese news site Naharnet.
The “resistance” clause minimizes pressure on Hizbullah’s weapons and legitimizes resistance as a national cause instead of a purely Shi’ite one, which had been two goals of Hizbullah during negotiations….