UN Security Council Resolution 1701 halted the month-long fighting between Israel and Hizbollah but did little to resolve the underlying conflict and, if poorly handled, could help reignite it.
The Middle East is immersed in its worst crisis in years following the capture of three Israeli soldiers by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Lebanese Party of God (Hizbollah) in late June 2006 and early July, Israel’s comprehensive offensive throughout the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, and the daily firing of rockets deep into Israel.
The shocks Lebanon has experienced in recent months might destabilise even a sturdy country, let alone one polarised along political and sectarian lines. That it has held together is in large part due to memories of the recent civil war.
Former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri’s tragic assassination capped a series of events that carry the potential of fundamentally altering not only Lebanon’s future, but also Syria’s and the broader regional landscape as well.
Few political actors in the Middle East have seen their environment as thoroughly affected by recent events in the region as Hizbollah, the Lebanese political-military organisation that first came on the scene in the mid-1980s.
The Israel-Lebanon border is the only Arab-Israeli front to have witnessed continuous violence since the late 1960s and it could become the trigger for a broader Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet, in recent times it has been the object of very little international focus.
This ICG report is one of three published simultaneously, proposing to the parties and the wider international community a comprehensive plan to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict.
President Bush, announcing U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on 24 June 2002, has set the terms of the international response to the conflict for the immediately foreseeable period. Before peace can be negotiated the violence has to stop.