Saturday, August 26, 2006

On the Origins Of The Shebaa Farms and Much More

The question of the ownership of the the Farms is one that takes center stage on many issues on the domestic and regional levels plaguing Lebanon's development today. A while back, I dug up an article at the Ha'aretz titled Too Late For Their Own Good by Akiva Eldar published in July 2002, and can be accessed at the following link :
http://www.geocities.com/lorrrenzo13/pdf/Too_Late.pdf

The article mentions that an independent Israeli researcher travelled to the archives in Paris to discover the true ownership of the farms, the main conclusions of the article are:

1.The Farms were mistakenly drawn on the map which represented it as part of the Syrian territory, and

2.In light of the first point, Israel will not return the farms back to Lebanon as the government has the belief that Hizballa might find another excuse to retain it's weapons.

The Lebanese government should send a delegation to Paris and conduct this research, as it will clarify and resolve many issues:

1.If the Farms are indeed lebanese, then Israel is illegally occupying Lebanese territory in violation of U.N resolution 1559 which it stauchly stands behind.

2.The potential for disarming Hizballa by means of a political solution.

Why I explicitly mentioned the word potential in bold in my second point, is due to the following:

Suppose that Lebanon does conduct the research and that the identity of the Farms is actually Lebanese then, will Israel actually adhere to U.N resolution 1559 and withdraw from that area? According to the conclusions of the article, it does not have the incentive for such an action. So, it will invariably depend on whether Hizballa can credibly demonstrate that it will disarm upon the Israeli withdrawal. But by the same logic, can Israel demostrate that it will actually withdraw and not seek revenge whenever hizballa disarms? The nature of the interdependence existing in this issue- in my thought experiment- is that a commitment problem exists on both sides.

Your thoughts on the matter are all welcome.

19 comments:

  1. A commitment problem exists and the Lebanese nation pays the price. On one hand, the zionist army feels free to do whatever it wants, on the other a militia under a Glo_cal resistance banner feels free to impose its will over the Lebanese government.

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  2. The whole concept of the unilateral withdrawals has collapsed on the israeli side. Most probably the days of Kadima and Olmert, as main proponents of these policies, are numbered.

    So the actual ownership of the Shebaa Farms is irrelevant in this respect. As far as i remember the UN resolution indeed mentions the issue of determining the status of the Shebaa Farms but Israel has been already promised by the US that regardless of who is determined to be the owner, practically Israel would be under no obligation to withdraw.

    So even in case the Shebaa Farms would be determined to belong to Lebanon, practically it means nothing, since the israeli public would nt expect any more unnegotiated territorial consessions.

    Which brings us back to the question of the chicken and the egg. Hezbollah would refuse to accept any agreement with Israel before Israel unilaterally leaves the land it considers to be lebanese. Israel would be no longer willing to repeat its experience with South Lebanon and Gaza.

    By the way the point you make - "1.If the Farms are indeed lebanese, then Israel is illegally occupying Lebanese territory in violation of U.N resolution 1559 which it stauchly stands behind." is not correct. At the time Barak invited the UN to confirm that after his withdrawal Israel does nt occupy an inch of the lebanese soil. The UN confirmed that Israel has fully complied with this part of the UN resolution. So if anybody its the UN who bears responsibility for this situation, not Israel.

    This peace "Suppose that Lebanon does conduct the research and that the identity of the Farms is actually Lebanese then, will Israel actually adhere to U.N resolution 1559 and withdraw from that area?" is also wrong. Its the UN who should determine the status of the Shebaa not Lebanon. Otherwise Syria should disavow Shebaa in a written form, which it did nt do until now despite proclaiming that it basicly supports the lebanese claims.

    But once again, and as i said, there would be no more unilateral pullouts. So if Lebanon wants the Shebaa Farms it would have to approach Israel with negotiating some agreement. Probably even a 1949 style permanent ceasefire would do.

    For sure under present conditions of the both countries being officially in the state of war (correct me if i am wrong on this), would the Shebaa Farms be determined to belong to Lebanon or would the syrians officially renounce any claims on it, it changes nothing. If Lebanon wants to get the Shebaa farms, it would have first to negotiate and normalize its relationships with Israel by some agreement. So whatever the case the ball is in the lebanese hands.

    I should say that if lebanon would break the ranks and go on negotiating a separate agreement with Israel bypassing Syria, the Shebaa farms would be a small price to pay in the eyes of Israel. Taking Lebanon out of the Israeli Arab conflict on the permanent basis is ways more than the israeli FM can dream about right now.

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  3. Teapot12:14 PM

    nobody,
    I agree that Sheba, if there is a mistake, it is Lebanon, Syria and the UN to blame for it.
    I disagree on the issue of unilateral withdrawals or Uni-Pulls.
    U assume that since Arabs fire missiles from places Israel uni-pulled from, Israel will end this move on the west bank.
    Let me explain how this 'false victory' of Hezbollah will play out:
    1. Asad already said that this Hezbollah tactic is great and that "civilians" in his country may adopt it.
    2. The Palestinians are copying this method and are probably working hard to implement these bunkers in Gaza.
    3. The Arabs, by adopting this tactic of firing missiles from villages, give Israel a legitimacy to erase these villages.

    If Israel uni-pulls from West Bank, Arabs will fire missiles, Israel will erase every village a missile comes from, Pals flee to Jordan. Jordanian King escapes to his home in England. A Pal gov established in Jordan. Peace Breaks-out.
    Note, Israel learned that laser guided smart bombs are too target specific and and therefor take too much time to stop the enemy, so it will use wide-blast bombs the next time.

    Conclusion, Uni-Pulls are good for Israel.

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  4. The U.N. says Shebaa Farms is Syrian according to the Armistice line of 1949, and has certified that Israel has withdrawn to this line. Syria will not send a letter and officially confirm to the U.N. that the farms are Lebanese. Israel is stuck in the Shebaa Farms doing the U.N.'s will until Syria straightens this out. Everything else is just useless commentary or false justifications. The End.

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  5. Teapot. I should say that i am not sure i got your logic. If anything we ve got nicer and more interesting things to do than to erase arab villages.

    Solomon.I am no expert on the UN and international law but my understanding of the matter is this.

    The UN is not in the business to decide who is the owner of the Shebaa Farms for Syria and Lebanon. Unless the both sides ask the UN to mediate it s not going to do it. So what is most probably going to happen is that the UN would invite Lebanon and Syria (not Lebanon and Israel as apparently the author of this post is thinking) to settle the issue between themselves. Given that Syria has been publicly supporting the lebanese claims to Shebaa, the syrians would be asked in line with their previous statements to sign some disclaimer in which they officially renounce any claims to Shebaa. I am not sure that they can backpeddle now and refuse to sign it. If they do it would be a scandal.

    The next step would be for Lebanon to ask Israel to transfer the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon. To this Israel woulod say that they already withdrew unilaterally from South Lebanon and thank you. Also Hezbollah apparently has additional territorial claims to Israel somewhere in the north. So Lebanon would have to accept some sort of agreement or non agression pact which would include:

    1) Lebanon recognizes that after this withdrawal Israel comes out absolutely clean in the sense of not holding on any more of the lebanese territory

    2) That the territory ceded to Lebanon is not going to be used for staging cross border raids or whatever against Israel. Which basicly means that Lebanon takes responsibility for its border.

    3) That Israel would stop violating the lebanese air space and whatever. This point may indeed be accompanied by something about disarming Nasrallah or at least stopping more supplies to him because Israel would be reluctant to stop flights over Lebanon unless its assured that Hezbollah is neutralised.

    If it gets to this stage Lebanon would most probably demand from Israel to swap the remaining prisoners, to disclose the location of the mines and to clear some other munor issues.

    Ultimately its not that difficult for Lebanon and Israel to strike a permanent peace deal.
    The question is more what Nasrallah is going to say or if the lebanese government would be strong enough to ignore what he or the syrians say.

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  6. I just wanted to add that one problematic issue that may arise here is the Hezbollah support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Apparently Hezbollah, apart from supporting them financially, is also smuggling weapons to and provides training for these groups. Its very possible that Israel would demand that in the framework of the deal both sides would guarantee some non involvement or non intervention or how they call it in the international relationships. And to enforce it would be the responsibility of the lebanese government.

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  7. It appears that there is some inconsistency between the two of my first posts. So i think i should explain myself better.

    Lebanon can dispatch a delegation to Paris and even to the Comorra Islands. Its of no interest to Israel or to the UN. For sure not for Kofi Anan. He is not going to start redrawing maps just because one country sent a delegation somewhere.

    On another hand it appears absolutely needless because on one hand Syria publicly supports the lebanese claims, on another Israel does nt consider the Shebaa Farms as part of the Israeli territory anyway.

    So what the UN would be looking for is that both Lebanon and Syria agree that the Shebaa is lebanese. Its when both Syria and Lebanon would agree on this, that the UN would officially confirm the new ownership.

    Of course if Syria refuses to do it at the last moment it would insanely complicate the matters. I have no idea how such situations are resolved.

    But say the syrians agree and the UN officially certifies the new ownership. Its only at that moment from the point of view of the UN and Israel that this issue is becoming a lebanese israeli territorial dispute. And it s at this moment that Israel would say - we ve already spent six exciting years with Hezbollah on the border after unilaterally leaving South Lebanon. Now we want first negotiate.

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  8. Teapot10:58 PM

    nobody,
    "If anything we ve got nicer and more interesting things to do than to erase Arab villages."
    I'm sure u do. What I'm saying is:
    1. Israelis see how much support they got for this war (Blair going out of his way to explain the Israeli side). This means a great support among Israelis for another withdrawal.
    2. Olmert, Peretz, and the military are criticized for not doing enough damage to finish this war. (a critic that comes from left and right- read Ari Shavit in Haaretz). This leads me to think next time there would be no restraint.
    3. Israel asks US for wide blast bomb. (a very big eraser).

    So, unless Arabs have a heart change about their "Victory" and unless Israel covers itself with a "Laser Dome" to shield from rockets, I see the vision I described above.

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  9. Teapot, either you don't know what you're talking about, or if you do then, your talk is just the talk of a racist supremacist. Be careful what you wish for. You praise the methods of Nazi Germany, and you cheer the use of such methods by the Zionist army against the locals, the rightful inhabitants of the land.

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  10. Anonymous12:00 AM

    Blacksmith Jade, I urge you to apply your policy and block such outrageous racist comments like the ones made by teapot and some others...

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  11. Although I don't agree with his comments, they're not explicit enough to warrant censorship.

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  12. Hello Nobody (that already sounds weird as if I am talking to no one, hehehe),
    Thank you for your constructive comments on the matter here is my reply in point form:

    1.Purpose of the article is to point out that the Israeli government knows who the actual owner of the Farms is and this information is available freely as it can be researched at the archives in Paris.

    2.In light of point 1, and of Israel’s history of adherence to the U.N deliberations on all matters related to it such as U.N resolutions, it seems that Israel is being opportunistic. What I mean by this point is that Israel does not have a record of adhering to the U.N as an authority, but chooses so on this specific matter. For this reason, Israel is directly responsible and involved in occupying another country’s territory for strategic purposes. The end result being that Israel still occupies Lebanese territory illegally.

    3.In light of point 2, I agree that if Lebanon wants the Shebaa Farms back, it will certainly have to approach Israel, since: 1. The Assad government mentions on a number of accounts that the Farms belong to Lebanon and that any back peddling by Assad could have dire consequences for all parties involved; and 2. that the U.N is not the decision maker on these matters; and 3. That even if the U.N agrees that the Farms do belong to Lebanon, ultimately the Lebanese must talk to Israel about retrieving them due to the bias evident in the U.N deliberation by the U.S promise of no obligation of unilateral withdrawals- a point you mentioned in your first comment.

    4.The Shebaa Farms should be the shortest of Israel’s hurdles on it’s quest to negotiate peace with Lebanon, as the even bigger hurdle of the Palestinian refugees’ (situated in Lebanon since 1948) right to return home has more dire consequences for both Israel and Lebanon; and among other issues that of compensation to the Lebanese civilians who suffered under Israeli aggression during the illegal occupation of Lebanese territories since 1978, the date of Israel’s first entrance into Lebanon dubbed Operation Litani.

    5.In light of point 4 and the last sentence of your last comment, ultimately, my analysis still stands with respect to the existence of a commitment problem that both sides are facing concerning the Shebaa Farms.

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  13. Teapot said...

    nobody,
    "If anything we ve got nicer and more interesting things to do than to erase Arab villages."
    I'm sure u do. What I'm saying is:
    1. Israelis see how much support they got for this war (Blair going out of his way to explain the Israeli side). This means a great support among Israelis for another withdrawal.
    2. Olmert, Peretz, and the military are criticized for not doing enough damage to finish this war. (a critic that comes from left and right- read Ari Shavit in Haaretz). This leads me to think next time there would be no restraint.
    3. Israel asks US for wide blast bomb. (a very big eraser).

    So, unless Arabs have a heart change about their "Victory" and unless Israel covers itself with a "Laser Dome" to shield from rockets, I see the vision I described above.

    --------

    First of all its not that expensive to install the laser dome. To block the nortern border and the border with Gaza would cost us around one billion dollars. We ve been part of the 'nautilis' project. Much of the technology on which the Skyguard of Northrop Grumman is based is ours. We dont need a minimized mobile system of the laser since we are a small country. So the issue of the costs is not relevant to us. It would be about 30-30 million $ per unit for us. 10-12 such systems is more than enough to cover the whole of the north. The project is already being restarted.

    I dont think that if there would be another round then Israel would try to hit Lebanon harder or look for a decisive victory. It would be once again looking to win on points. Its just that this time with the north covered by lasers it would be looking for a much bigger gap in points. Frankly i dont know what else Israel can destroy in a tiny country with 40 billions of foreign debt and why.

    Second i saw Nasrallah today interviewed on the TV. He said that if he knew that there was even 1% of the chance that Israel would react the way it did he would nt have kidnapped the soldiers. If this is not a heart change then i dont what is. As to the arab street its always the same story. Who cares about the arab street.

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  14. Kronos.

    Israel does nt know to whom Shebaa Farms belong and it does nt care. Israel does nt claim that it belongs to Israel and so its irrelevant for Israel whether its part of the Golan or Lebanon. When Israel withdrew from South Lebanon it relied on the UN to draw the blue line, by the way partly because the lebanese government refused to negotiate. Because Israel was searching for the international recognition that it completed its part it turned to the UN.

    I would not base a whole theory on what one person from Haaretz claims to have discovered in the archives in Paris. As i said I believe that neigher the UN is going to start searching the archives. Especially if the syrians say they basicly support the lebanese claims on the issue of Shebaa. From my understanding of how the UN works Kafi Anan would nt change a thing in the maps unless he signs both Syria and Lebanon on a peace of paper about the Shebaa. The last thing the UN likes to do is to take responsibility by setting new borders. Unless the syrians sign this peace of paper the Shebaa is syrian.

    You are absolutely right that Israel is opportunistic when it comes to the UN resolutions. Are the arab countries any different in this respect? There is nothing particularly godly about this organization called the UN.

    BUT !!! If we start being serious about striking a deal or something its good to stick to the UN resolutions. Because if we dont then we will start bringing historical evidence of as far back as 5000 years ago. Or we will start citing from Koran and Tora. Its not that the UN resolutions are good. Its just that anything else is much worse. So its good to use them as the basis for negotiations if we and arabs are serious about having them. If we are not serious then no need to care for them.

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  15. Kronos

    I think that you proceed from a very wrong assumption from the beginning. That Israel claims Shebaa for itself. It does nt. Israel relies on the UN to know what country should ask Israel to negotiate over the return of this peace of land.

    Another thing is, and i apologize if i hurt somebody's feelings , Israel does nt see Lebanon as an independant state. Israel sees Lebanon more or less as taken hostage by Syria thru Hezbollah. As Israel sees it Syria uses Hezbollah to make its point about the Golan heights. Syria is basicly saying to Israel - the peace to the north of Israel lies in the Golan heights. So Asad, while avoiding direct confrontation with Israel , is making his point about the Golan by using Hezbollah and the lebanese territory. Its a consensus in Israel that on the day Israel reaches agreement with Syria over the Golan all supplies to Hezbollah by Syria would be immediately stoped. So Israel never tried to negotiate with Lebanon in serious because the assumption in Israel is that the lebanese government does nt have political will , nor real power and independance to negotiate a thing in its own interests. The understanding in Israel is that Lebanon/Hezbollah would be a part of the package deal next time when Israel would be negotiating with Syria.

    If the lebanese government would suddenly show that it has its own interests and that it could have an independant policy when it comes to negotiating with Israel, the israeli political analysts would recieve a shock of their lives.

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  16. Kronos states:
    ".In light of point 1, and of Israel’s history of adherence to the U.N deliberations on all matters related to it such as U.N resolutions, it seems that Israel is being opportunistic"


    There are two types of security council resolutions: those passed under chapter six and those passed under chapter seven.
    Chapter six resolutions do not dictate a solution. They only recommend or suggest or even condemn but it is up to the two parties in question to agree on an acceptable resolution.
    Chapter seven resolutions on the other hand are those that do not give the parties any leeway. they just order a particular outcome

    What gets lost on most people is that Israel is not in violation of any UNSC resolutions because 242... are passed under chapter six i.e. these resolutions ask Israel and its neighbors to agree on a resolution that is acceptable to them. So far both parties have failed to arrive at an agreement.
    1559 ,on the other hand, is passed under chapter seven. Under this resolution there is nothing to be discussed. Syria had to pull out and Lebanon has to disarm the militias. It is similar to an order. Believe it or not besides 1559 every single UNSC chapter seven resolution has been implemented.

    *************************

    Officially Syria regards Lebanon as part of Syria. Syria has never
    recognized Lebanon as a soveriegn country.Until they so recognize Lebanon all Syria is saying
    is that Shebaa farms belongs to a part of Syria. Syria has consistently refused to provide the
    necessary documents to recognize THE COUNTRY OF LEBANON and grant it title to Shebaa farms. As other have pointed out it doesn't matter what Lebanon or Israel do, Shebaa farms disposition depend entirely upon Lebanons good buddy Assad (unless Israel chooses to annnex it).

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  17. First, thank you to those who gave constructive comments. Now for a general message to the entire audience:

    At this blog, we frown upon the use of foul language as a means of making a point as it is not constructive in any debate/discussion whatsoever. Please, do not practice this behavior at this blog. The administrator will remove these comments deemed unstatisfactory by our standards as soon as possible.

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  18. Teapot8:19 AM

    Everyone,
    My comments were not racist I was describing the mood in Israel and the mood in the Arab mind, and how it relates to another clash. Since Nasrallah says he regrets what happened, maybe the tactic of shooting missiles from village's will not be adopted. My comments aim was to warn of such scenario.

    nobody,
    I did not say the "laser dome" was too expensive. I have a better idea, building the cities of Israel underground. Not only it would shield from missiles, but, the Palestinian could live above ground. Arafat would have gone for such a deal. Sounds ridiculus? Israel cant just sit and wait while rockets are flying (even if they are shot down by laser) The Arabs are not a Tsunami. If they know the high cost of their adventures they will stop.

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  19. Thank you all for your comments. This has given me food for thought and I will reply to you all more thoughrouly in the form of a forthcoming post that I am currently working on. In the meantime some clarifications are necessary:

    Nobody, I never mentioned anywhere in my post, and in my comments that I believe that Israel wants to annex the Shebaa Farms. All I mentioned was that in the event that both nations reach the bridge (which will have to be crossed someday) if under the cicumstances i placed in my thought experiment would engender a commitment problem; and this is no way necessarily implies that I bilieve that ISrael wants to Annex the Farms.

    Mikealpha, thanx for your comment, i looked up the information you mentioned, and i found some very interesting material which i will use in my response in the forthcoming response.

    Teapot, Your comments are not racist on the grounds that you mention that it was a possible scenario of events is unsderstood.

    Once again, thank you all for your civilized and constructive approach in our discussions.

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