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Anne Bayefsky

The Political Arm of Hezbollah: The United Nations

Monday, August 7, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on the brink of handing President Bush the worst diplomatic disaster of his presidency. She is poised to agree to two United Nations resolutions that will tie the hands of both Israel and the United States in the war on terror and, in particular, inhibit future action on its number one state sponsor - Iran.

The catastrophe is the brainchild of Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has effectively turned the United Nations into the political wing of Hezbollah. Rice and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns are working furiously to satisfy a timetable dictated by Annan, not by the interests of the United States.

How did the United Nations become the forum for producing peace between Israel and its neighbors, which have rejected the Jewish state's existence for the past six decades? In the last three weeks, a multi-headed hydra of U.N. actors has risen to defeat Israel on the political battlefield in an unprecedented disregard of the U.N. Charter's central tenet: the right of self-defense.

Existing Security Council resolutions have for years required "the Government of Lebanon to fully extend and exercise its sole and effective authority throughout the south, [and] ensure a calm environment throughout the area, including along the Blue Line, and to exert control over the use of force on its territory and from it." A combination of Iranian aggression, Syrian support, and Lebanese impotence and malfeasance, has actively prevented the implementation of the existing resolutions.

But how did the U.N. respond to the aggression against the U.N. member state of Israel, which was launched once again from Lebanese territory and which continues to the present hour? By accusing Israel of murder, mass genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the deliberate attack of children, and racism. U.N. actors have even denied that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and analogized it to anti-Nazi resistance movements. In the last three weeks, we have heard:

Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

  • Israel's "excessive use of force is to be condemned;" Israel has "torn the country to shreds." Israel's disproportionate use of force and collective punishment of the Lebanese people must stop...

  • Israel is "apparently" guilty of the murder of U.N. soldiers. The U.N. interim-force (UNIFIL) soldiers were killed by Israel after it responded to Hezbollah attacks on Israeli civilians. One of the soldiers had reported only days before he died that Hezbollah's nearby actions meant Israel's response "has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity." Yet without any investigation, Annan immediately called it an "apparently deliberate targeting;" - an accusation he has yet to retract.

  • Israel has "committed grave breaches of international humanitarian law" and "has caused, and is causing, death and suffering on a wholly unacceptable scale."

Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown:
  • Hezbollah, the Iranian-proxy currently fighting Israel, is not a terrorist organization. "It is not helpful to couch this war in the language of international terrorism," said Malloch Brown, claiming Hezbollah is "completely separate and different from Al Qaeda."

Jan Egeland, under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency-relief coordinator:
  • "The excessive and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces...must stop."

Louise Arbour, U.N. High Commissioner for human rights:
  • In comments Arbour directed at Israel, she said: "the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable," suggesting that Israel was perpetrating "war crimes and crimes against humanity" for violating the "obligation to protect civilians during hostilities".

Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. special representative of the secretary-general for Children and Armed Conflict:
  • In comments directed "even-handedly" to Israel and Hezbollah, Coomaraswamy "strongly condemned the repeated attacks on civilians, and especially on children, noting that callous disregard for the lives of children has permeated this conflict from its start."

Ann Veneman, executive director of UNICEF:
  • Veneman claimed Israel is engaged in "the continued targeting of civilians, particularly children."

Agha Shahi, Pakistani member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

Jose Francisco Calitzay, Guatemalan member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
  • Commenting on events in Lebanon, Calitzay said "mass genocide was the highest level of racism that could exist, and they had to prevent that from happening in the present case."

Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr, Egyptian member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
  • Aboul-Nasr "objected to the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah was not a terrorist organization; it was a resistance movement that was fighting foreign occupation, just as there had been during the Second World War."

In short, the United Nations - which to this day cannot define terrorism - did not come to the aid of a U.N. member under fire from one of the world's leading terrorist organizations. It came to the aid of the terrorist by attempting to prevent the member state from exercising its right to hit back. The Geneva Conventions clearly state that combatants are prohibited from using civilians as human shields, but if they do so, the presence of civilians does not render the area immune from military operations. Israeli soldiers and civilians are paying with their lives daily as a consequence of Israel's dramatic restraint from taking disproportionate action in order to reduce Lebanese civilian casualties.

But in the face of the U.N.'s obvious predilection to subvert Israel's well-being and American foreign policy interests, to whom has Secretary Rice turned to save the day? The United Nations!

The result has been as predictable as it has been disastrous. The U.N.'s verbal assault on Israel is coupled with a three-pronged political agenda. The United Nations seeks to: (1) protect Hezbollah from further Israeli attacks; (2) produce a political win for Hezbollah by giving them the territorial prize of the Shebaa Farms ; and (3) increase U.N. presence, oversight, and control of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Every element of this agenda is satisfied in the current U.N. resolution and is part of the declared intention of the second resolution to follow.

The resolution calls for a "full cessation of hostilities" and "the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations." What offensive military operations? Has Israel been engaged in a single military operation offensive and not defensive in nature? Only according to Annan's armed wing, Hezbollah.

The resolution reintroduces the notion that Israel occupies Lebanese territory, calling for action on "areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shebaa farms area." It completely contradicts the secretary-general's own final determination of January 20, 2005, that the Shebaa farms is not Lebanese: "The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab'a farms area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel's withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978)."

The draft resolution on the current crisis says the Security Council "expresses its authorize in a further resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter the deployment of a UN mandated international force to...contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution." It calls for renewed involvement of UNIFIL, the U.N. troops that stood and watched Hezbollah rearm and plan its deadly assault on a U.N. member state for the last six years.

Such an international force is to be authorized under the first-ever Chapter VII resolution - a legally binding resolution that can be implemented through sanctions or the use of force - in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In other words, Secretary Rice has approved of a U.N.-authorized and monitored force that has its sights set on Israel too, coupled with a claim that Israel is currently engaged in "offensive" operations. The very U.N. that accuses Israel of murder and heinous violations of international law is now to be charged with judging compliance with a legally binding instrument purporting to define the terms and conditions of Israel's self-defense.

In addition, the draft resolution

  • fails to call in its operative section for the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers;

  • introduces the notion that settling the issue of all Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel - regardless of their crimes - will be the quid pro quo for the Israelis' release;

  • speaks of financial and humanitarian assistance only to the Lebanese people while ignoring restitution or aid resulting from the one million Israelis in bomb shelters over the last three weeks and the 300,000 displaced;

  • lends credibility to another manufactured grievance, the return by Israel of "remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon" - though Israel has already returned maps of old mines years ago, and no mention is made of Hezbollah providing the U.N. with maps of its newly laid landmines;

  • enhances Kofi Annan's authority to judge Israel by extending an open-ended invitation to inform the Security Council continually about any action he believes "might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution";

  • fails to mention "Hezbollah" or terrorism even once, let alone stating that Hezbollah is directly responsible for the Lebanese civilian casualties it cynically promotes;

  • omits entirely any reference to Iran or Syria, as if the address of the arms suppliers and bosses of their Hezbollah proxies are too sensitive to include.

There will be only one sure result of this move - the empowerment of terrorists whose ultimate target is the United States and all democratic values. Secretary Rice's belief that there is a serious convergence between the United Nations agenda and American foreign-policy needs in the age of terrorism is a profound error in judgment for which democratic societies everywhere will be forced to pay a heavy price.

This article originally appeared on National Review Online.