The viability of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Lebanon War could be on the verge of collapse.
A high-ranking Israeli security official warned Tuesday, “The Syrians are arming Hezbollah at an accelerated pace” in advance of today’s Israel security cabinet meeting. The meeting is anticipated to address the threat posed by the radical Shiite group to the Jewish state.
The Israel security cabinet met yesterday morning to discuss the threats on the northern front and Hezbollah’s arms race, with Syrian encouragement. At the meeting, an intelligence briefing was given on Hezbollah’s actions since the Second Lebanon War, and its preparations for a possible clash with Israel, despite the presence of the UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon.
“Hezbollah has carried out a number of actions that are destruc-tive for the agreement, which was originally supposed to improve the situation on the northern border,” the source said. “I don’t want to talk about the implications of the war now.
“At present, Israel has no ways of coping with Hezbollah’s armament, with the exception of diplomatic actions that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is trying to initiate with foreign ministers of Middle Eastern and European countries.”
Mr. Barak spoke on this matter with visiting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, telling his French colleague, “Israel will not be able to accept the ongoing erosion of Resolution 1701, which is not being implemented, and the continued transfer of weapons that is undermining the delicate balance on the northern border.”
The Israeli defense minister also told Mr. Kouchner that Israel expected him to help to stop the arms transfer from Syria to Hezbollah, and that UNIFIL, which is operating in Lebanon, needs to increase its opposition to Hezbollah’s buildup and fortifications.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni,warned during a tour of Israel’s northern border with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini that, “An opportunity has now arisen to disarm Hezbollah, and we must not miss it. If we don’t do it now, it will be much more difficult later.”
Ms. Livni and the Italian foreign minister agreed steps should be taken to fully implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. The Italian foreign minister said he hoped that now, after a new government has been formed in Lebanon, it would be possible to speak with it.
“The implementation of Resolution 1701 is the only solution and the best option for resolving the situation in this region,” Ms. Livni said.
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu also met with the Italian foreign minister. In their conversation, Mr. Netanyahu protested that the Italian automobile company Fiat recently announced its intention to open a plant in Iran.
“Italy should act to prevent Fiat from building another plant in Iran,” said Mr. Netanyahu, who is lobbying the countries of the world to expand the sanctions against Iran, heard from the Italian minister that his protest would be conveyed to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Egyptian Officer Killed By Israeli Soldiers
An Egyptian officer was killed on Tuesday by fire from Israeli soldiers who were patrolling the border.
An Israel Defense Forces’ investigation found that Egyptian border police sighted a group of smugglers returning from Egypt to Israel and exchanged shots with them. During the exchange, the Egyptians also fired on the Israeli soldiers who had returned fire, killing the Egyptian officer.
“IDF forces returned fire and consequently the officer was killed. From the investigation it emerged that the Egyptian police crossed the border into Israel and therefore it was clear to the troops that they must open fire,” an anonymous Israeli military source said. “The matter is still being investigated.”
Israeli defense officials called the incident embarrassing, especially in the light of Egyptian mediation for the release of Gilad Shalit, the captured IDF soldier, with a Hamas delegation in Cairo. At the same time, they praised Egyptian efforts to stem the flow of infiltrators across the border.
Two years ago, during a similar incident, Israeli troops killed two Egyptian policemen who were patrolling the border. The IDF claimed later that the policemen had crossed into Israeli territory and that is why they were shot.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008