Beneficiaries of War

The majority leader in the Lebanese Parliament proposes to stop the fighting with Israel and let the Lebanese government take over the POW exchange with Israel.

Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, said it would be impossible to implement Resolution 1559 today as there was no force in Lebanon capable of enforcing it.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya television yesterday, Hariri proposed a "comprehensive arrangement" - not an overall peace agreement in the Middle East, but an attempt to to resolve the present war.

His proposal consists of demanding that Israel withdraw from the Shaba Farms and Hezbollah transfer the handling of POW exchange to the Lebanese government.

This would deprive Syria and Hezbollah of their bargaining chips and hand Lebanon an achievement as well - an Israeli withdrawal. Israel's pulling out of Shaba would eliminate Hezbollah's excuse to continue the armed struggle to liberate occupied Lebanese lands. The government's handling the POW exchange means canceling Hezbollah's monopoly on the matter, as well as strengthening the government's status.

Hariri assumes that solving these two problems will make it easier for him to persuade Nasrallah to disarm, even temporarily.

Hariri, most Christian leaders and Druze leader Walid Junblat, who support the proposal, wish to prevent Syria's return to a position of power over Lebanese issues.

If, however, Syria's intervention is required as a result of this war, it will eliminate Lebanon's huge achievement last year in bringing about Syria's withdrawal from its territory. On the other hand, if Syria is not involved, it is doubtful whether it will be possible to carry out Hariri's proposal without Israel's explicit agreement.

Hariri fears that Syria will be the beneficiary of this war. Meanwhile Syria is being wooed by the European Union and Turkey. Even the Arab states realize that despite the reprimand to Syria in the foreign ministers' convention in Cairo last week, its involvement is necessary.

Moreover, Syria is not unpleased with the situation in Lebanon, which implies, Syrian spokesmen say, that Lebanon cannot stabilize itself without Syria and that the Lebanese independence, attained with such effort and the help of the United States and France, burst like a bubble.

The Syrian paradox will continue to exist until Syria agrees to put its influence to the test. Then it may transpire that the Hezbollah has considerations, which are not necessarily Syrian or Iranian, and that despite the Iranian money, it sees itself as a Lebanese organization.

Hezbollah needs an internal achievement in Lebanon if it is to exist after the war and refute the accusation that it brought economic disaster on Lebanon, as the envoy of Iran or Syria.

The question is whether Israel will consider Hariri's proposal seriously and grant Prime Minister Seniora's government a chance to try to reach a solution.