Israel Gives Up on Disarming Hezbollah

by Michael J. Totten

TEL AVIV -- Israel has finally figured out what everyone in Lebanon knew already, that disarming the Hezbollah terror-guerilla militia is not going to happen.

Israel has essentially given up hope of Hizbullah being disarmed, and instead is now concentrating on ensuring that an arms embargo called for in UN Security Council resolution 1701 be implemented, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Furthermore, senior Israeli officials have made it clear in recent days during talks with foreign governments that Israel realizes a Hizbullah presence south of the Litani River is unavoidable, if for no other reason than because the organization is so well rooted there that the only way to get rid of Hizbullah would be to evacuate the entire region.

What Israel does expect, however, is that the Lebanese Army and the international force that will deploy there ensure that Hizbullah doesn't have offensive weaponry to attack Israel, and that if they do try to attack, there will be someone there to stop them.

The impression Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has left in recent days on her European counterparts during meetings both in Israel and in Europe is that Israel recognizes it is unrealistic for anyone to take away Hizbullah's weapons, and that what is most important at this time is to ensure that there is an effective embargo on any new weapons to Hizbullah.

Those inside and outside Israel who believed disarming Hezbollah by force was possible in a short time frame were supremely delusional. It’s not 1967 anymore, when Israel could defeat three Arab armies in six days. Hezbollah is a guerilla army, as well as a terrorist army, and assymetrical warfare is hard. Look at how much longer it is taking the US to put down a Baathist insurgency in Iraq compared with the Baathist army in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in power.

Israel fought Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon for almost two decades. That war was also fought to a standstill.

Hezbollah didn't win either. Michael Young, a Lebanese national based in Beirut, put it this way in Reason magazine:

Hezbollah's victory is no different than most other Arab victories in recent decades: the "victory" of October 1973, where Egypt and Syria managed to cross into Israeli-held land, their land, only to be later saved from a thrashing by timely United Nations intervention; the "victory" of 1982, where Palestinian groups were ultimately expelled from West Beirut, but were proud to have stayed in the fight for three months; the Iraqi "victory" of 1991, where Saddam Hussein brought disaster on his country but still held on to power. Now we have the Hezbollah "victory" of 2006: the Israelis bumbled and blundered, but still managed to create a million refugees, to kill over 1,000 people, and to kick Lebanon's economy back several years. One dreads to imagine what Hezbollah would recognize as a military loss.