Sunday, November 29, 2009

Old MacNasrallah Had A Farm...

Or so he claims--and now he and Hizbollah have the backing of the Lebanese government:
Lebanon’s new cabinet has agreed on a policy statement that recognises Hizbollah’s right to use arms against Israel, despite reservations from the Western-backed ruling majority.

The cabinet had already met eight times in an attempt to iron out the clause which refers to the party’s substantial arsenal, with some ministers arguing it undermines the authority of the state.

The clause in question states the right of “Lebanon, its government, its people, its army and its resistance” to liberate all Lebanese territory.

Hizbollah is commonly referred to as the resistance in Lebanon.
Meryl Yourish refers to this article as Israel's justification in the inevitable next war with Hizbollah, noting the UN's current inability to take a stand on events in Lebanon.

And yet, strange as it may seem, in determining the status of that disputed territory that Lebanon claims Hizbollah has a right to liberate--Shaba Farms--the UN did its homework when it decided that Lebanon in fact did not have a right to that farmland area.

In July 2000, the UN Security Council made a point of
Recalling also the statements of its President of 20 April 2000 (S/PRST/2000/13), 23 May 2000 (S/PRST/2000/18) and 18 June (S/PRST/2000/21) on the situation in Lebanon, in particular its endorsement of the work done by the United Nations as mandated by the Security Council, including the Secretary-General's conclusion that as of 16 June 2000 Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General's report of 22 May 2000 (S/2000/460),
In Secretary General Kofi Anan's May report to the Security Council he noted:
14. Concerning that portion of Lebanon’s border that it shares with the Syrian Arab Republic relevant to the Israeli withdrawal, there seems to be no official record of a formal international boundary agreement between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic that could easily establish the line for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal. On 4 May 2000, the Government of Lebanon informed my Special Envoy that certain farmlands in the Shab’a area located outside the area of operations of UNIFIL as defined since 1978 would be claimed by Lebanon in the context of the requirement under resolution 425 (1978) that Israel withdraw from Lebanon.

15. Once the Government of Lebanon informed the United Nations of its new position regarding the definition of its territory, the United Nations requested the Governments of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as other Member States in possession of pertinent information, to provide the United Nations with documentation related to the Lebanese-Syrian border.

16. The Government of Lebanon subsequently provided the United Nations with title deeds of Lebanese ownership of farmlands in this area, as well as with documentation indicating that Lebanese governmental and religious institutions had enjoyed, at various points in time, jurisdiction over those farmlands. The Government of Lebanon informed the United Nations of a joint understanding between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic that the farmlands were Lebanese, including a decision of a joint Lebanese-Syrian border committee that concluded in 1964 that the area was Lebanese and that the international border should be redefined consistent with that conclusion. In a telephone conversation with me on 16 May 2000, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Mr. Al-Shara’, stated that the Syrian Arab Republic supported Lebanon’s claim.

17. On 15 May 2000, the United Nations received a map, dated 1966, from the Government of Lebanon which reflected the Government’s position that these farmlands were located in Lebanon. However, the United Nations is in possession of 10 other maps issued after 1966 by various Lebanese government institutions, including the Ministry of Defence and the army, all of which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. The United Nations has also examined six maps issued by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including three maps since 1966, which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. On the basis of the Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces of 31 May 1974 and its Protocol concerning the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which included maps initialled by Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic, the Shab’a farmlands fall within the scope of the area of operations of UNDOF. The area coming under the mandate of UNDOF has remained unchanged until the present time. It follows that in adopting resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), the Security Council could not have included as part of the UNIFIL area of operations an area which had already formed part of the UNDOF area of operations. It is worth noting that, notwithstanding the conflicting evidence to which I have alluded, and whatever the present understanding between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, these farmlands lie in an area occupied by Israel since 1967 and are therefore subject to Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) calling for an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory. (A total of 81 maps were available to the United Nations from various sources dating from before and after 1966; 25 of these were issued by the Governments of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.) [emphasis added]
So in keeping with UN Resolution 242, Israel is holding onto that area until a properly negotiated secure borders can be agreed upon with Syria.

In the meantime, Syria finds itself in something of a quandary:
At the time of the 2000 Israeli withdrawal the UN asked Syria about its position on the issue. Damascus was in a quandary: On the one hand, this was obviously Syrian territory; on the other, if Syria conceded that the farms belong to Lebanon, there might be a chance of getting one more sliver of Arab territory out of Israeli hands.

Syria thus responded that whatever its former claims to the Shaba Farms, it now agreed to cede them to Lebanon.

But when the UN asked Damascus for a formal document stating that the area had indeed been legally transferred to Lebanon, Syria balked - and it has still not supplied such a document. [emphasis added]
Bottom line, that farmland is nothing more than a pretext to allow Hizbollah to apply pressure on Israel on behalf of its masters in Iran.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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