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    you too could enjoy syriana..., 2006-07-21 00:30:35 | Main | you think lebanon is bad..., 2006-07-21 13:13:01

    the conception of hezbollah:

    Cockburn sez:

    In 1982 Israel had a problem. Yasir Arafat, headquartered in Beirut, was making ready to announce that the PLO was prepared to sit down with Israel and embark on peaceful, good faith negotiations towards a two-state solution.

    Israel didn't want a two-state solution, which meant -- if UN resolutions were to be taken seriously -- a Palestinian state right next door, with water, and contiguous territory. So Israel decided chase the PLO right out of Lebanon. It announced that the Palestinian fighters had broken the year-long cease-fire by lobbing some shells into northern Israel.

    Palestinians had done nothing of the sort. I remember this very well, because Brian Urquhart, at that time assistant secretary general of the United Nations, in charge of UN observers on Israel's northern border, invited me to his office on the 38th floor of the UN hq in mid-Manhattan and showed me all the current reports from the zone. For over a year there'd been no shelling from north of the border. Israel was lying.

    I really don't know my history on this front much at all, but in one of the half dozen places where this particular period is discussed on Wikipedia, there's one contrary note to the attempted assassination/shelling attacks pretext line that one otherwise reads without qualification:

    According to former chief of Israeli military intelligence Yehoshafat Harkabi, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon was accompanied by deceit at the highest political levels. Harkarbi cites misleading statements to the cabinet by Ariel Sharon and Begin, inaccurate announcements by Israel's military spokesmen and the Likud government's gross exaggeration of terrorist acts conducted from Lebanon. Defence Minister Rabin admitted in the Knesset[citation needed] that during the eleven-month ceasefire preceding the war, Israel's northern settlements had been attacked only twice and that during this period Israel had suffered a total of two killed and six wounded from terrorist attacks. These attacks had been preceded by Israeli strikes in response to the planting of a bomb on a bus and the attack on Shlomo Argov.

    Benny Morris confirms this - or rather, observes the opposite, that the Israelis were the ones breaking the ceasefire - in Righteous Victims, arguing that "the border between July 1981 and June 1982 enjoyed a state of calm unprecedented since 1968". The Israelis had been informing the Reagan administraton of "the resolve to invade Lebanon" for five months before the supposed PLO provocation and finally recieved a hestitant OK for the attack in mid-May:

    Repeatedly during the first months of 1982 Sharon and Eitan pounced on this or that incident, usually far from the Lebanese-Israeli border, that might serve as the necessary detonator. On January 28 a squad of Palestinians tried to infiltrate into Israel across the border with Jordan. Sharon and Eitan proposed to retaliate with an air attack on PLO targets in Lebanon. They hoped these would trigger a PLO artillery response against Israel's northern border settlements - providing the casus belli. ...

    The PLO commanders studiously reined in their units. ... Arafat declined to be drawn into the trap; the PLO held its fire. ... May 9 the IAF struck targets in Damour and southern Lebanon, and this time the PLO struck back, unleashing a barrage of rockets and shells. But none of the projectiles hit an Israeli settlement; the gunners had been ordered to miss.

    Nonetheless, Begin was eager to respond to the "provacation"...

      ibid, p.511

    What Begin and Sharon wanted was to assure the election of Bashir Gemayel and to destroy the PLO, rather than make peace with an independent Lebanon and negotiate with the PLO - let alone "defend Israel". Clearly a rejectionist stance, apparently it went so far that Sharon was considering assisting a Palestinian overthrow of the Hashemites in Jordan - a shared objective of Abu Nidal who did the hit on the Israeli ambassador to the UK (itself crucial in winning cabinet support for Begin and Sharons' plan), "probably...to provoke an Israeli assault on the PLO in Lebanon".

    What they got was Hezbollah.


:: posted by buermann @ 2006-07-21 12:23:12 CST | link





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