On the US-Israeli Invasion of Lebanon

August 25th, 2006 § 0 comments

No, you’re right. I didn’t write the following, it was Noam Chomsky.

Though there are many interacting factors, the immediate issue that lies behind the latest US-Israeli invasion of Lebanon remains, I believe, what it was in the four preceding invasions: the Israel-Palestine conflict. In the most important case, the devastating US-backed 1982 Israeli invasion was openly described in Israel as a war for the West Bank, undertaken to put an end to annoying PLO calls for a diplomatic settlement (with the secondary goal of imposing a client regime in Lebanon). There are numerous other illustrations. Despite the many differences in circumstances, the July 2006 invasion falls generally into the same pattern. Among mainstream American critics of Bush administration policies, the favored version is that “We had always approached [conflict between Israel and its neighbors] in a balanced way, assuming that we could be the catalyst for an agreement,” but Bush II regrettably abandoned that neutral stance, causing great problems for the United States (Middle East specialist and former diplomat Edward Walker, a leading moderate). The actual record is quite different: For over 30 years, Washington has unilaterally barred a peaceful political settlement, with only slight and brief deviations.

The consistent rejectionism can be traced back to the February 1971 Egyptian offer of a full peace treaty with Israel, in the terms of official US policy, offering nothing for the Palestinians. Israel understood that this peace offer would put an end to any security threat, but the government decided to reject security in favor of expansion, then mostly into northeastern Sinai. Washington supported Israel’s stand, adhering to Kissinger’s principle of “stalemate”: force, not diplomacy. It was only 8 years later, after a terrible war and great suffering, that Washington agreed to Egypt’s demand for withdrawal from its territory.

Meanwhile the Palestinian issue had entered the international agenda, and a broad international consensus had crystallized in favor of a two-state settlement on the pre-June 1967 border, perhaps with minor and mutual adjustments. In December 1975, the UN Security Council agreed to consider a resolution proposed by the Arab “confrontation states” with these provisions, also incorporating the basic wording of UN 242. The US vetoed the resolution. Israel’s reaction was to bomb Lebanon, killing over 50 people in Nabatiye, calling the attack “preventive” – presumably to “prevent” the UN session, which Israel boycotted.

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