Lebanon: Raising the Bar to Dismantle Hizbullah

Israel's demand to immediately disarm Hizbullah encounters increasing resistance from within the Lebanese government, showing a partial shift in its attitude. The international community may follow

The Lebanese government is expanding the list of conditions under which it would be able and willing to dismantle Hizbullah.

If at the outset of the military operations the Lebanese leadership was calling for a ceasefire as a precondition to tackle the issue of Hizbullah, now the bar has been raised:

    • Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora declared that, even after a ceasefire he will not be able to enforce disarmament upon Hizbullah, unless Israel withdraws from the contested territory of the Shebaa farms.
    • Also, after the Israeli military operations in Qana, Siniora praised Hizbullah's "resistance" and declared: "We highly appreciate his [Nasrallah's] stance and those who are sacrificing their lives for the sake of Lebanon."

Concurrently, an increasing number of voices, both in Lebanon and internationally, are arguing that it is in fact unrealistic to expect the disarmament of Hizbullah. Alternative solutions, such as the absorption of the militia into the Lebanese army, are being proposed.

The Reut Institute contends that Israel's demand for an immediate disarmament of Hizbullah is being eroded, as the Lebanese government's new position may signal an approaching change in attitude of the international community.

Indeed, a few members of the international community have shifted from calling for an immediate ceasefire concurrent with the dismantlement of Hizbullah, to advocating for an immediate end of the hostilities, to be followed by a gradual demilitarization process.

This trend collides with Israel's demand to dismantle Hizbullah as a precondition to any future political arrangement, and it may lead to a deadlock between the parties.