Dealing to disarm

Posted in Politics + Diplomacy by expresscheckout on 18 August, 2006

Tyre Lebanon 27 July 2006 

Deal: Hezbollah will bear arms, but not in public
By Yoav Stern and Amos Harel
August 17, 2006
Hezbollah will retain its weapons in southern Lebanon but its members will not bear them in public, according to an agreement reached yesterday after days of talks between Hezbollah representatives and the Lebanese government.

By the end of the week, Israel, which has already considerably reduced its forces in south Lebanon, plans to remove the last of its reserve battalions. Contrary to reports, the IDF is conducting few sweeps of villages in the area where it took control in south Lebanon.
Following the Lebanese government’s acceptance of its army’s plans for deployment in the south, the Lebanese army will take up positions south of the Litani River after midnight tonight.

The Al Jazeera network yesterday reported Hezbollah’s refusal to accept any proposal involving a handover of its weapons to the Lebanese army or to UNIFIL, or allowing the Lebanese army to search its positions. The compromise reached is that Hezbollah would conduct no military activity in the south. There is to be no “show of military arms” by Hezbollah in the south, but only of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL.

A Hezbollah member of the Lebanese parliament, Hassan Fadlallah, told Al Jazeera, “Any call to empty the area south of the Litani of Hezbollah will empty it of its inhabitants. The resistance that fought on the border, the residents of the villages who defended their villages on the border – it is inconceivable that they would leave their villages. Political pressures cannot allow the sons of the resistance, the sons of the south, to give up their villages, in defense of which they paid with precious blood,” he said.

Hussein Hajj Hassan, another Hezbollah parliament member, said yesterday that the organization could not be disarmed as long as there was no alternative military force to fight Israel. “It is unacceptable to give gifts to Israel after it was defeated militarily,” Hassan said on Lebanese TV. He also said Hezbollah’s weapons would not be used against Lebanese adversaries of Hezbollah, but only against Israel.

According to Hezbollah, there is no contradiction between the presence of an enlarged UNIFIL in southern Lebanon alongside the Lebanese army, and Hezbollah’s continuing to bear arms. “After all, the army does not have enough equipment or forces to defend Lebanon. The means of defending Lebanon is a matter for discussion and it is essential to discuss it,” Hassan said.

GOC Northern Command Major General Udi Adam met yesterday with the UNIFIL commander, French general Alain Pelegrini, to discuss the new deployment and the assistance UNIFIL was to provide the Lebanese army.

The IDF spokesman confirmed yesterday that the process of transfering control from Israel to UNIFIL had begun. “The Lebanese army has pledged to precent Hezbollah activity in all areas under its control and subsequently to distance Hezbollah from the region,” the spokesman said.

The more than 10 countries that have expressed willingness to contribute soldiers to the expanded UNIFIL force are said to be withholding confirmation until the force’s mandate is clarified in terms of rules of engagement and cooperation with Israel and Lebanon.

Refugees return to homes in Sidon and Tyre 14 Aug 2006


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