Thursday, August 17, 2006

Israeli FM briefing on UN Security Resolution 1701

(translated from Hebrew)

Cabinet Secretary Maimon:

Today's resolution by the Israeli government relates to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701:

"The government of Israel announces its decision to accept the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and will act according to its obligations as outlined in the Resolution."

Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni:

My thanks to the Cabinet Secretary.

I will relate to the resolution itself and also give a brief summary of what preceded it and why, in my opinion, as I also said today in the cabinet, the Security Council resolution is good for Israel and, if implemented, will lead to a substantive change in the rules of the game in Lebanon, in the relationship between Israel and Lebanon.

I am not naive. I do not live only within my own people. I also live in the Middle East and I am aware of the fact that not every resolution is implemented. I am aware of the difficulties, and despite all this I say with complete confidence that the Security Council resolution is good for Israel. With regard to implementation of the resolution, a great deal depends on the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora, and no less on the international community. Their determination to genuinely and fully implement its resolutions, can lead to this regional change that we all await, and will prevent this resolution from staying on the shelf as happened, unfortunately, with previous resolutions on the Lebanese issue, such as parts of Resolution 1559, and Resolution 1680.

In order to understand the significance of the resolution and see whether it is really good and safeguards Israel's interests, we must compare two different aspects, and I will make these two comparisons.

One is to look at Israel's current situation compared with the political situation that existed before this resolution was passed and before the outbreak of hostilities on July 12. And the second question we must ask ourselves, is whether the goals that were intended to change the rules in Lebanon and the relationship between Israel and Lebanon, as well as the internal situation within Lebanon, could have been achieved by military means alone.

As a result of Hizbullah's attack on Israel from Lebanon on July 12 and the kidnapping of the two soldiers, one of Israel's objectives, which Israel will not abandon, is, of course, the return of the soldiers.

I will outline the political situation in Lebanon that existed prior to the attack on Israel: the situation that we saw was that there was a weak government. Living alongside this government was a terrorist organization, maintaining its own army, totally in control of the entire south of Lebanon, conducting deliberate provocations against Israel, both against its soldiers and against its residents, any time it wanted to heat up the atmosphere, and also trying to determine and dictate Israeli-Palestinian affairs.

We saw UNIFIL forces in very small numbers, in the best case serving as observers but ineffective in maintaining peace in the region. There was no Lebanese army in southern Lebanon. Hizbullah was regularly receiving weapons from Syria and Iran through Syria, through the border crossings. After the passage of Resolution 1559 calling for the disarmament of the militias, we saw a political process of internal dialogue in Lebanon that did not produce any results whatsoever. This internal dialogue was one in which the Prime Minister of Lebanon held discussions with Hizbullah, but did not enforce Lebanese sovereignty, and the result is what led to the attack against Israel.

The political situation at that time is that there was a resolution lying on the shelf ¬- Resolution 1559 - calling, in principle, for enforcement of Lebanese sovereignty throughout Lebanon and the disarming of the militias. As I noted earlier, there is a kind of dialogue between the Lebanese government and Hizbullah and voices are starting to be heard saying that perhaps Hizbullah is not a militia as stated in Resolution 1559, and perhaps it does not need to be disarmed.

Afterwards we saw Resolution 1680. This resolution also examined the failure to implement Resolution 1559 and stated the need to determine the border of Lebanon. It also called on Syria to accept and adopt the resolutions that had been passed regarding the border between Lebanon and Syria. Part of Resolution 1680 is also relevant to the resolution adopted by the government of Israel today.

As noted, the situation had to change and it was necessary not only to adopt Resolution 1559 at the theoretical level, but also to translate it into action.

Immediately after the outbreak of hostilities we also set ourselves goals. We asked ourselves how it would be possible to achieve those pivotal goals and whether a military process could achieve all of them.

I am talking about a process that took place here in the first days after the outbreak of the fighting, and it became clear that most of the goals we were setting ourselves could not be achieved solely through military action. In the nature of things, we could not bring back the soldiers by military means, and an effective deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon would require decision and action by the Lebanese government, not just military action on the part of Israel. Preventing the transfer of weapons to Hizbullah is something that the army can do in the course of combat, but it was obvious to us that as soon as the fighting ended, the supply of weapons to Hizbullah would resume, and it was necessary to make this an achievable goal. The military action that was needed and was implemented was to weaken the power of Hizbullah and pave the way for political processes, to enable the achievement of the long-term goals that we set ourselves.

With regard to the proceedings of the Security Council resolution, it is important to note that this is not a UN Security Council resolution that is being forced on Israel. And now we are dealing with the question of whether we adopt it or not. It is important to state that, from the beginning, when we understood that, in fact, these goals had to be achieved by political means, and because it was obvious to us that the entire international community understood the cause of the recent incidents and that it was necessary to implement Resolution 1559, we ourselves acted to initiate the procedures and resolutions that would promote the goals we had set ourselves.

This work was conducted in the Foreign Ministry by a team headed by the director-general of the Ministry, right from the earliest days of the war.
Its practical translation is as follows. First of all, it must be stated explicitly that the decision and the need to implement Resolution 1559 appear in Security Council Resolution 1701. However, we felt that this was not sufficient because such a resolution had already been passed. We therefore asked for it to be broken down into actions to be taken in the field, so if we are talking about the exercise of Lebanese sovereignty, we must to see the Lebanese army moving southward on an immediate and practical level, because what worries Israel more is, naturally, what happens in southern Lebanon, which has become the Hizbullah base from which rockets and missiles were fired into Israel, without the Lebanese government even having a foothold there.

Since it was obvious that the Lebanese government or the Lebanese army was too weak to implement this process on its own, we asked for the involvement of international forces to join the Lebanese army and help it enforce the sovereignty of the Lebanese government in southern Lebanon.

True, the forces we are requesting will be effective. There was a discussion on the question of whether these are forces that should come under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, that is, forces which have the authority to enforce and not merely to observe. And this is what we also requested - that the countries taking part in the international forces should be NATO members or countries with experienced armies that will also be able to fight and use force if required.

In this context, it was clear from the start that we were talking about a multinational force with a United Nations mandate, but we requested that it not come from UNIFIL, with which we are familiar in the framework of the observer forces. The discussions produced a result that is acceptable to Israel. We are not talking about the UNIFIL forces we are used to seeing in southern Lebanon and on the northern border of Israel, that is, a meager force of observers. We will now be getting an expanded UNIFIL with more people. We will be getting UNIFIL with a completely different mandate, which includes the right, the option and the authority to use force when required, a mandate that is very similar to resolutions passed under Chapter 7.

I would like to make it clear that in this Resolution 1701, as in resolutions passed under Chapter 7, we see a statement to the effect that what is taking place in Lebanon is a threat to world peace and security, and these resolutions, which relate to bringing in forces and to the embargo that I will address at a later stage, use the term to signify enforcement, and not merely as a call to do something, as we are used to seeing in resolutions that are based on Chapter 6.

In the same way, the Lebanese government announced that it would move its army southward. In this framework, the Lebanese government announced that it accepted the fact that international forces of this kind would join the Lebanese army. So what we are seeing today, after the resolution has passed - and assuming that it is implemented - compared with the situation that existed before, could create a dramatic change in southern Lebanon. I would like to remind you that prior to the attack, and for many years, Israel's only demand was that the Lebanese government move its army southward, and what we are getting today is not only the Lebanese army but also significant reinforcement. I would like to note that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his speech the same evening regarding this force, also used terms relating to an enforcement force and not merely an observer force, and this is also how the resolution relates to all its different aspects.

At the same time, a call has gone out today to members of the United Nations to send the relevant kind forces, which are capable of enforcing the resolution, and I hope that we will see this happening in the near future.

We also requested that there not be a vacuum, in other words, that there not be a situation in which the IDF pulls out, leaving a vacuum in which Hizbullah could return to the same places it had left or, alternatively, remain in place with nothing happening. Therefore, as part of the discussions leading up to passage of the resolution, it was also clarified, agreed and accepted by the Security Council that there would not be a situation in which Israel was required to withdraw its forces and leave a vacuum, but that Israel would withdraw at the same time that the Lebanese army forces moved in, together with the international force. There should also not be a situation in which we see a soldier from the Lebanese army arriving and then we are told to leave, but rather, if we choose - and the decision is up to Israel - we will be able to leave simultaneously with the entrance of the international forces together with the Lebanese army.

The second problem that we expected to occur, one way or another, on cessation of the military campaign, was a situation in which, within a short time, Hizbullah would be rearmed by Iran and Syria, through Syria, so we asked from the start, at our initiative, for an arms embargo on Hizbullah. The initiative in this case came from Israel, and we placed it on the table of the international community.

Even in the last hours before passage of the resolution, we wanted to ensure that this embargo would be enforceable and substantive, preventing the transfer of arms from these countries to Hizbullah, in fact, to anyone other than the Lebanese army. Now the embargo is part of the UN resolution and the terms and formulation of this article are acceptable to Israel and express our opinion - a proper embargo.

Thus, even with a decision or request by the Lebanese government, it will be possible to monitor the international borders of Lebanon, not only by means of the Lebanese army and security forces but also with the help of international forces. And it is important to say that, one way or the other, responsibility has been imposed on the Lebanese government to ensure that arms do not enter in order to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah.

The question has been asked about whether everything is now dependent on decisions or requests from the Lebanese government with regard to the international forces, and it is important to state something in principle. One of the problems we have faced in recent years, and we also saw it in this attack, was the fact that the Lebanese government does not exercise or enforce its sovereignty. The concept we want to go with is that ultimately there will be two countries, one Israel, and the other Lebanon. Two countries, each of which understands that being a sovereign state also involves responsibilities, and that you are also responsible if you do not fulfill Security Council resolutions as required. From our standpoint, any entire process that involves placing power in the hands of the Lebanese government so that it can enforce its sovereignty is a positive one which, of course, creates a genuine change in the situation in Lebanon.

Additionally, it was important because, as noted, when a national dialogue took place within Lebanon it appeared that Hizbullah was beginning to acquire other, softer names and was perhaps beginning to be accepted as something that was not a militia as required and agreed. It was important to obtain international recognition of the fact that the start of hostilities was due to the provocation and action by Hizbullah, which is mentioned by name in the Security Council resolution. It is also clear that the entire process is intended to lead, in the end, to the disarming of Hizbullah, not just to the Lebanese army moving southward, not just to an embargo, but to a process completed by the disarmament of Hizbullah, as was required from the start in the previous resolutions, but today we are also creating the way to enforce this process at a practical level.

Another thing: regarding the international force - should it become apparent that the forces that were decided upon are not adequate, the resolution opens the way that will allow for improving the mandate and creating a proper force so that it will be more effective, with a broader mandate than this one. This is already determined in the resolution.

Israel, of course demanded that the kidnapped soldiers be returned to their families as this was and still is our goal. During this period, we have undergone some difficult processes in which there was a demand to connect the release of our kidnapped soldiers to the release of Lebanese prisoners currently being held in Israel We insisted that there be no connection between these two matters at any level. We did not feel it was right, just or ethical from any point of view to connect these two issues into a single formula. There is absolutely no equivalence between soldiers who were kidnapped to Lebanon in an action that violated the sovereign rights of the State of Israel within its own borders by a terrorist organization such as Hizbullah and prisoners being held in an Israeli prison, some of whom have been convicted of committing unspeakable terrorist crimes. We demanded that the international community stand behind the statements made on the very first day following the kidnapping - that the kidnapped soldiers be released unconditionally. This statement now appears in the Security Council resolution. True, it appears in the preamble, which is referred to as the "declarative section," but the soldiers are mentioned as the cause of the dispute for which the citizens of Israel and some of the citizens of Lebanon have paid dearly and which created the urgent need to deal with the factors that led to the current crisis, including releasing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers unconditionally. Israel has no intention of allowing this matter to remain at the level of a declaration. We will continue to act to make it possible for us to bring them home. Here, too, I wish to note the remarks made by the UN Secretary General on the day the resolution was passed, when he referred to the process and spoke of the actions that must take place between Israel and Lebanon and he talked about the kidnapped Israeli soldiers as the starting point for any process that Israel and Lebanon will engage in.

Within this framework, Lebanon requested, even demanded, that at some stage the subject of the Shaba Farms be included and we saw this in some of the drafts of the resolution. We must understand that Shaba Farms are located. or that the boundaries of Lebanon are supposed to be fixed and this was also established in Security Council resolution 1680, which we also demanded be implemented. But the framework in which it is mentioned in resolution 1680 deals with the relationship between Lebanon and Syria. This resolution states that the border must be redrawn and calls for Syria to adopt the resolution that was passed. Israel was not involved in that story and Israel will not get involved in it as a result of the passing of this resolution.
In the past, in previous drafts placed before us a week ago, this matter appeared in the framework of a discussion that needed to take place, as part of a section dealing with relations between Israel and Lebanon. Israel insisted that this subject be removed from the framework of negotiations between Israel and Lebanon and as a result of our demands in this matter, it is mentioned only within the framework of the implementation of resolution 1680, which, as previously mentioned, is an existing resolution in which there is no mention of reopening negotiations regarding the Shaba Farms.

It is also worth noting that the resolution ends with the mention of previous resolutions dealing with the relations between Israel and its neighbors, including resolution 242, that deals with a process which, I hope, will eventually lead to a discussions on a peace agreement between Israel and Lebanon.

We must also see the explanation given by the USA regarding its vote in which this article is also noted - Shaba Farms relates to implementation of resolution 1680 and no more.

This is all I have to say regarding the resolution.

Since, as I stated previously, the resolution deals with practical and genuine implementation at a level of detail that did not exist in previous resolutions, and with agreements - of the Lebanese government as well - that we have not seen before and which we accepted, among other things, as a result of the processes we conducted at both the military and political level, there is a chance of seeing a change in Lebanon, provided that the international community does not suffice with the resolution and does not leave it as it is.

In my estimation, especially due to the events of the past month, the international community as well as the Lebanese government understands that Israel will no longer accept a situation whereby a terrorist organization sits on its border and fires Katyushas at Israeli citizens or, alternatively, attacks Israeli soldiers whenever it wants to. So as I stated earlier, in comparing the political situation on the day before and the chance that this resolution will change the situation in Lebanon, with the goals we set for ourselves here two days after the beginning of the conflict and what we hope to achieve following termination of the military operation, without addressing the question of when and how it will end, we have attained most of the goals in the Israeli initiative which, in effect, we placed as the first draft on the table of the international community.

This process was not simple and I will repeat here what I said previously - a summary of previous chapters. About a week ago, a French-American draft resolution was publicized. We must also remember that only a week before there was an American initiative that was designed to create agreements and lead to a resolution in the Security Council. As a result of the event in Kafr Qana, there was a regression in the situation, the Lebanese government also withdrew its acceptance and, in effect, the French resolution began to gain momentum which ultimately became a joint American-French resolution.
Resolution 1701, which was passed, is far better than the one previously proposed by the Americans and French, and I will explain why. The American-French resolution contained the right words and, on a declarative level, included everything. The problem was that it spoke of a process that included two resolutions - the first was primarily declarative and only the second part dealt with practical matters that also included the placement of international forces.

According to that resolution a number of actions needed to be taken by both Israel and Lebanon and only after these actions were taken would it be possible to bring in the international forces and, just to remind you, the Shaba Farms were also mentioned within this framework. So it was important to us during this period, and it was understood by all those who dealt with the matter, that if we were drawn into a situation of two resolutions it was possible that the first resolution would be wonderful from a textual point of view but its implementation would be delayed - something nobody wanted. What we are now seeing is that the part meant to be in the second resolution was included in the first one, strengthening it significantly from the standpoint of the embargo and the international force, and we still retained the possibility, if needed, of an additional resolution should we wish to strengthen the international force. This option actually remained from the first resolution, but as an option for the future that we consider important.

During the past week we had some very difficult discussions. If last Thursday it seemed that we were in a situation where the package was one that we not only could accept but that we wanted to promote - during the night between Thursday and Friday, including Friday, we found ourselves facing the concern that it would be a very weak resolution, primarily on the matters we considered important, such as the international force, its characteristics and its mandate and the matter of the embargo.

It should be noted that with regard to the kidnapped soldiers, the positioning of the statement regarding the need to release them was the same in all the previous drafts. Also, the matter of the Shaba Farms was including a manner that was unacceptable to us and we responded on Friday that, to our regret, and despite the fact that we were very anxious to see this Security Council resolution as one that could change the face of the situation in Lebanon, we could not live with the resolution that was about to be formulated. I delivered this message to the Secretary of State. At the same time, discussions were also held by the professional teams since during the entire period, in addition to those discussions between myself and the Secretary of State, a professional team from the office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense was dealing with wording, together with their American counterparts. Discussions were held by the chief of staff of the Prime Minister's office and a very clear message was given to Steve Hadley, that Israel could not live with the proposed agreement. On Friday we had, in effect, reached the conclusion that this package would not change the situation in Lebanon and we were not prepared to settle for statements that were simply words with no effectiveness.

At the same time, during the afternoon, as you know, a decision was reached by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense to approve the start of a military operation and just as it was starting to go into action late Friday we began to strengthen the resolution and return it to the level at which we felt it should originally be.

Thus if we look at the two parameters that I previously proposed, one to view the political situation in Lebanon, and between Lebanon and Israel, the day before, and to see what the chances are and where this resolution can lead, we can - if it is implemented - see a dramatic change. Can anyone promise us with absolute certainty that it will be implemented completely? From the nature of things, no. However we have a commitment, the international community has a commitment and from here on in we must see to its implementation. However, there is no doubt and I haven't heard here today, even during the government's discussions, anyone who denigrates the contents and achievements of this resolution from the standpoint of Israel's interests. We must always also remember that there will sometimes be people who say we stopped the army too soon. I posed this question at the beginning of my remarks. There are things that no army in the world can achieve, certainly not after it has completed its operation. Preventing the entry of weapons during regular times and not during a military operation, the deployment of the Lebanese army southward and the disarming of Hizbullah is a process that Lebanon will need to undergo and with what we have created with the help of the international community, along with international pressure, I hope that ultimately we will be able to see this process commence.

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