International Involvement Predicament (1) - Scope of Mandate

The possible international involvement in Lebanon may force Israel to choose between insisting on an expansive mandate of the international force and maintaining its presence in Lebanon, or compromising over its mandate and withdrawing from Lebanon.

PM Olmert and Secretary of State Rice discussed this week the prospects of the establishment of an international force that would prepare the ground for the Lebanese army to deploy along that country's southern border (Haaretz, 7/30). The Re'ut Institute contends that the dilemma Israel is facing tips the scales between:

  • A battle over the force's mandate, which is likely to be involved with an ongoing Israeli presence in Lebanon and a possible failure of the force's deployment; and
  • A compromise over the force's mandate that is likely to ease both its deployment and an Israeli withdrawal.

Background

As clashes between Israel and Hizbullah took place, Israel posed three demands: the immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers, the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and the disarmament of Hizbullah and the deployment of the Lebanese army at the country's southern border.

Later, Israel demanded that an international force be established to replace UNIFIL and prepare the ground for the Lebanese Army to deploy and implement Resolution 1559.

Hizbullah resists the deployment of an international force in this format (see interview with member of Lebanese Parliament in Al-Jazeera, 7/24), although it agrees to the presence of international force with a limited scope (Bar'el, Haaretz, 7/30).

Battle over the Mandate = Ongoing Israeli Presence in Lebanon

The more Israel insists on the expansion of the powers and authorities of the international force, the greater the potential will be for the international force to dismantle the Hizbullah miltia and to exclude the organization from the border with Israel;

Yet, in light of Hizbullah’s opposition, the probability of the establishment of an international force and an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon is decreasing.

Compromise over the Mandate = Withdrawal from Lebanon

The more Israel compromises on the powers and authorities of the international force, the lesser the potential will be for the international force to enforce Resolution 1559;

Yet, the probability of an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, followed by a tacit or implicit consent by Hizbullah to an international intervention in Lebanon, increases.