THE MEATY STUFF (just in case you thought this was a tabloid)
So, the Israel-Lebanon Conflict... why is it relevant? Why did we choose this as an aspect of the Israel-Palestine negotiations?
Because it directly affects it. Lebanon is home to over 400,000 Palestinian refugees and their placement/displacement is one of the major hindrances in the progression of peace talks.
The border clash and subsequent violence (the three Lebanese and one Israeli deaths) provides reason and incentive for the peace talks to come to a halt, as the Middle East is not currently the biggest fan of Israel, their independence, the fact that they are basically a Jewish state, the US's little puppet, etc.
Overall, we have observed that the August 3, 2010 incident seems isolated, though there is heavy speculation that the conflict has added too much tension to Israel and Hezbollah's already strained "relationship" (if you can call hating one another a relationship).
In the early days of the 20th century, the British Empire was given a Palestine mandate which covered present day regions of Jordan and Palestine. The Palestine mandate was formed after the Allied forces (Britain, France, and Russia) partitioned the land that encompassed the vast Ottoman Empire in the East. As the war unfolded, the British High Commander, Sir Henry McMahon, had secret negotiations with the patriarch of the Hashemite family, Husayn ibn ‘Ali. (MERIP, p3) The High Commander managed to convince Husayn that if he joined the British and led an Arab revolt against the Ottomans, that he would provide an “independent Arab state” for Husayn to rule over, which would include present day Palestine.
Unfortunately, Britain decided to engage in a conflicting treaty on how the land was to be partitioned. The British foreign minister, Lord Arthur Balfour, declared that Britain would support “a Jewish national home in Palestine.” Finally, a third tangled agreement was made in secret between France and Britain, planning to partition the Arab region. France and Britain persuaded the League of Nations into giving them colonel control over the former region. France was to take Syria (after which they established Lebanon) and Britain took over what is now Israel and Jordan. (MERIP,p3) The indigenous Palestinians were upset that the Independent state they were promised was never given. They also opposed the British control over their territory because not only did it undermine their ability to self rule. At the same time, influxes of Jewish immigrants were coming into the country, and the indigenous people feared that Palestine would become a Jewish state. Protests that included journalist, political activists, and peasants alike soon followed. (MERIP, p3) Often wealthier Jews that were coming from Europe would purchase land from absentee landowners and the families living on the land would be evicted. In 1933, when Hitler rose to power, Jewish immigration was dramatically increased. In response, an Arab revolt soon erupted from 1936-39 as a resistance to the dominating British and Zionist movement. (MERIP) After extinguishing the revolt, the British had to rethink their position in the tense matter so they decided to issue the “White Paper”, a political policy. It limited the amount of Jews that were able to move to Israel. In a sense it restored an attempt of balance within the state, but it came at a difficult time for the Jews as they were experiencing cruel and appalling persecution in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The policy was aimed to help Palestinians but with the Arab revolt and the exile of the political leaders, the community was in turmoil and disorder.
After World War II the British decided to relinquish its mandate over Palestine to the UN in hope that they would be able to come up with a solution to the rising tensions. Several UN delegates went to the region, but were unable to come up with a final consensus to a solution over the disputed land. Finally, they all agreed that a two state plan would be the best solution for both ethnic groups. The UN voted for the proposed law on November 29, 1947. It had introduced that the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem would become International zones, while 56% of the state became Jewish and 43% Arab. (MERIP, p.4)The Jews had agreed with the suggested plan, while the Arabs declined, outraged by the International community. Many Arabs were upset that the British had let so many Jews even immigrate in the first place, against the wish of the majority. If it hadn’t been for that they argued, the question of a Jewish statehood wouldn’t exist.
In 1948, the British abandoned Palestine and the Zionists declared Israel a state. The first Arab-Israeli war started, in which Syria, Egypt and Jordan fought the Zionists in order to “save” Palestine. When they were defeated, a series of agreements took place, partitioning the land. Israel took control of 77% of Palestine. (MERIP, p4) Egypt received the Gaza Strip, and Jordan occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The envisioned Arab state of Israel was never enacted.
In the strained years between 1947 and 1949, 700,000 Palestinians fled from their homes. (MERIP, p5) An official Israeli document shows that 75% of Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the Israeli Defense force or convinced through psychological propaganda that aimed in spreading fear among the Palestinians to leave, as well as “direct expulsion”. (MERIP,p5)Many Palestinians claim this was in order for them to leave the region so the Zionists could fulfill their dream of an all Jewish land. The towns of Lydda and Ramleh were forcefully expelled of their population on July 13th, 1948. 70,000 men, women, and children were forced to flee their homes. The two villages were a part of the original Palestinian plan, but after the Israeli’s secured their proposed state they continued to push forward.
Keith Wheeler of the Chicago Sun Times witnessed the event and reported “practically everything in their way died. Riddled corpses lay by the roadside.” A New York Herald Tribune writer noted named Kenneth Bilby noted “the corpses of the Arab men, women and even children strewn about in the wake of the ruthlessly brilliant charge”. At least 250 Lyddans’ lost their lives that day. (U.S. U.N. Mission) Not a day later, the Prime Minster David Ben-Gurion ordered "The residents of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age." (Schiff & Ya'ari, 0216) Benny Morris, an Israeli historian stated: "All the Israelis who witnessed the events agreed that the exodus, under a hot July sun, was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees, especially from Lydda. Some were stripped by soldiers of their valuables as they left town or at checkpoints along the way .... One Israeli soldier ... recorded vivid impressions of the thirst and hunger of the refugees on the roads, and of how 'children got lost' and of how a child fell into a well and drowned, ignored, as his fellow refugees fought each other to draw water. Another soldier described the spoor left by the slow-shuffling columns, 'to begin with [jettisoning] utensils and furniture and in the end, bodies of men, women and children, scattered along the way! Quite a few refugees died-from exhaustion, dehydration and disease-along the roads eastwards, from Lydda and Ramleh, before reaching temporary rest near and in Ramallah. Nimr Khatib put the death toll among the Lydda refugees during the trek eastward at 335.” (Schiff & Ya'ari, p215) A young Palestinian man also revealed: "Two of my friends were killed in cold blood. One was carrying a box presumed to have money and the other a pillow which was believed to contain valuables. A friend of mine resisted and was killed in front of me. He had 400 Palestinian pounds in his pocket." (Spiro, Gideon, P201) There are countless cases of this forced expulsion throughout the region, an example of which is the most infamous killings of Deir Yasin, where range the casualties between 120-250 Arabs that were killed by Israeli fighters.
As a response to the chaos, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt declared war on Israel. Although officially it was said that the Arab Legion running on one plan, in truth there was little correspondence between the states. Although in the beginning of the war, the Legion managed to make several notable successes, they eventually lost due to a lack of organization and management. (Isseroff)
In 1967 another war broke out between Israel and Egypt over water rights.
UNIFIL: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was founded in March of 1978 by the UN Security Council to assure Lebanese security, ensure Israeli withdrawal from the border lines, enforcing the Blue Line (UN drawn and internationally recognized border line), and restore international peace by aiding Lebanon's government in regaining control and authority over the country.
As quoted from the UN website, "Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Council enhanced the Force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons."
UNIFIL, as stated above became far more prevalent post-2006 in South Lebanon, resolution 1701 stating a call for "a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations" and called upon "the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL as authorized by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the Government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from southern Lebanon in parallel."
Ergo, UNIFIL was slightly important in the recent border clash between Israel an Lebanon.
(Information gathered from the UNIFIL website and the Security Council Resolution 1701 document; link to file also found on website)
Israel: Israel is a predominantly Jewish state founded by the UN in 1948 in Western Asia, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Jordan, the West Bank, Syria, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. It is considered to be a developed country in the Middle East, has a representative democracy including a parliamentary system, and has universal suffrage.
Israel is also the biggest beneficiary of American foreign aid, receiving close to $3 billion per year from the U.S. This puts Israel at an advantage not only as a state, but as a military force as well, their army, weaponry, and overall military force being far superior. There is also speculation that because the US supports Israel so strongly, it has created much animosity between Israel and the Arab world. In addition, Israel remains quite separate from the Middle East, being majorly a Jewish state with a Western style democratic government, very different both in religion and politics from their surrounding neighbors (Israel only has peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt).
Most of the Arab world supports Palestine in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
(Information gathered from both Francesca's Lectures (Media, Culture, and Society in the Middle East, Summer 2010) as well as the CIA World Factbook)
Lebanon: Once a French colony (hence the French newspapers in the region), Lebanon is a republic, their government power positions split between the three major parties in the country. The Christian Maronites, supported by the French, are located in urban centers, and, even though they are a minority in population, they are the wealthiest and hold the position of President. The Sunni Muslims, backed by the Saudis and Syrians, are everywhere, though mostly concentrated in Central Lebanon, are considered to be the most powerful group in the region, and hold the position of Prime Minister. Lastly, but opposite of least, are the Shiite Muslims, found in the north and south, sharing borders with Israel and Syria - they are believed to make up the majority of the population and hold the governmental role of Speaker of the Parliament (a somewhat powerless position.
Subsection: Palestinians in Lebanon: There are
currently 405,425 Palestinians living in 12 officially
recogninized camps (Hamas, Fatah and Al Qaeda are all
operating in these refugee camps). The Lebanese army
periodically raid/tamp down refugee camps to ensure they
do not rise up. Palestinians in Lebanon are forgot/ignored,
not allowed to assimilate, are denied citizenship, and can
only work in the cleaning and taxi service within
Lebanon. If you are a Palestinian in Lebanon, you can't
leave or reenter the country (and sometimes camp)
without diplomatic accompaniment. The only diplomatic
agency with any authority who can do anything about the
Palestinian refugees is UNRWA - UN Relief and Worker
Agency (but the Palestinians are stateless).
With such a disjointed and politically divided government, this state struggles to maintain peace and whatnot; and with Israel being so heavily supported by the superpower that is the U.S., there is a heavy disadvantage for Lebanon in any conflicts with Israel. Though much of the recent animosity between the two states is actually between Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Muslim political group, and Israel (such as the recent 2006 border clash, prompting UNIFIL resolution 1701). Lebanon is also the major country of fieldwork or our professor, Francesca Giovannini. Yay!
(Sources Francesca's lectures (Media, Culture and Society in the Middle East), CIA World Factbook)
Hezbollah: Media-wise, Hezbollah is associated with Al-Manar (a television station we have heard/talked about repeatedly over the course of the class). Otherwise, as the Council on Foreign Affairs states, "Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim political group with a militant wing in the United States as a terrorist organization. The group, which is active in Lebanon, is a major provider of social services, operating schools, hospitals, and agricultural services for thousands of Lebanese Shiites".
Hezbollah as a group was founded in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
Most significantly/recently (to do with the Lebanon-Israel conflict) was the 2006 border clash between Israel and Hezbollah over (similarly to the current conflict) the Lebanese border - prompting UNIFIL to renew and revitalize the Blue Line mandate for the two countries.
Hezbollah is reported as recently building up arms, weaponry and military force in general
Isseroff, Ami. “Israel and Palestine, a brief history, part I.” MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA. 10 June 2009. Web. 8 August 2010.
MERIF (The Middle East Research and Information Project), “Palestine, Israel and the Arab- Israeli Conflict- A Primer”. Pages 3,4,5. 8 August 2010. Web.
Schiff & Ya'ari, Israel's Lebanon War, p. 216 & p.215. Print.
Spiro, Gideon, "The Israeli Soldiers Who Say 'There is a Limit,"' Middle East International, Sept. 9, 1988. Also see "Documents and Source Material:' Journal of Palestine Studies, Summer 1988, p. 201. Print.
U.S. U.N. Mission, "List of Vetoes Cast in Public Meetings of the Security Council," 8/4/86. The 1982 vetoes, in addition to the one on 8/6, took place on 1/20, 4/2, 4/20, 6/8, and 6/26. Print.