Kowtowing to Hezbollah

It appears that the Israeli dilemma of whether Hezbollah emerged from the Second Lebanon War strengthened or weakened has been resolved by France. This weekend, Hezbollah figures will arrive in the French town of St. Cloud to conduct a "national Lebanese dialog" under French supervision. This is the first time Hezbollah has been invited to France as a political entity equal to the other factions, for a meeting intended to find a solution to Lebanon's political future.

To everyone participating in this meeting, which will apparently be presided over by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Hezbollah's political power is clear. So clear, in fact, that the French president's special envoy, Jean Claude Cousseran, traveled specially to Tehran on Wednesday for the second time in 10 days, to persuade Iran to soften Nasrallah's stance on the issue of forming a national unity government in Lebanon.

Nasrallah thereby not only became Iran's representative in Lebanon, but also introduced Iran as an active partner in the political process, not only the military one, and gave it standing that Tehran will be able to exploit in discussions with France on other issues such as nuclear power and the future of Iraq.

Hezbollah's status has also made Saudi Arabia realize that it must cooperate with Iran on the matter of Lebanon.

Thus, the two countries conveyed to the Lebanese parties suggestions for a solution that might get political life out of the deep freeze into which it sank after the war.

In view of these developments, apparently the way of thinking that measures Hezbollah's power according to the number of rockets or launch pads it has needs to be revised, in consideration of the strategic leverage the war gave this group.