Implement the draft resolution
As the international community has moved forward in recent days with a UN Security Council draft resolution to end the fighting, it has once again become clear just how complex and conflict-ridden this war is. Two principal blocs have clashed during the discussions: that of the United States and Britain, which recognize Israel's right to alter the status quo along the northern border, and that of France and other countries, which have called for an immediate cease-fire and negotiations that would involve Iran and Syria.
Israel has not won an unequivocal victory in this war. But it must insist that the resolution prevent, insofar as is possible, any return to the perilous status quo ante. The American-French draft includes articles in this spirit. For instance, it states that the UN will call for the creation of a weapons-free security zone in southern Lebanon, and the deployment of an international force that will assist Beirut in asserting its sovereignty over the region and in disarming Hezbollah. The agreement does not demand that Israel immediately withdraw its soldiers from south Lebanon, and it allows Israel to respond militarily to attacks by Hezbollah. The resolution also states that in the coming weeks, a second resolution will be submitted, which will determine the composition and mandate of the multinational force.
Skeptical pundits will cast doubt on the possibility of implementing the proposed resolution in full. However, this is not the moment for skeptical prophecies. Following widespread fighting, it ought to be in the international community's interest to make a special effort to implement the agreement this time.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair epitomized this determination by repulsing several attempts to call for an immediate cease-fire over the past few weeks. He thereby endangered his own political standing, which is shaky in any case. Nevertheless, as one British newspaper wrote, he has insisted on the necessity of laying the groundwork for a new situation for the simple reason that "he believes in it."
And indeed, the fighting in the north, which yesterday exacted an additional, heavy toll of casualties, must not end without international diplomacy making a demand - as Blair and his fellows have done - for the introduction of a mechanism that will make it very hard to resume hostilities.
Something of the influence that such international pressure can exert was evident in the change in the Lebanese government's position over the last two days - from rejecting the draft to showing a willingness to discuss it, with certain changes. Russia and China are also willing to go along with its main points, as long as Lebanon and Hezbollah accept it. Hezbollah's stance does not bode well. However, it is the duty of the governments that are leading the diplomatic effort to make it clear that they will not accept a situation in south Lebanon that enables Hezbollah to threaten Israel again.
Anyone who claims that Israel, given its limited achievements in this war, has not fully earned the right to such guarantees is being unfair to the international community. The war's diplomatic end should not be a reflection of the military situation on the ground at the moment the resolution is drafted. On the contrary: For the sake of regional security, it should complete what the fighting that was forced on Israel has not succeeded in doing - namely, the reining in of Hezbollah, its backers and its suppliers. Any other result would be a recipe for a new round of Israeli resistance to unbridled aggression from the north.