Israel Lebanon Armistice March 23 - History

Israel Lebanon Armistice March 23 - History

The negotiations took place in Rosh Hanikra, the border station on the Israel-Lebanon frontier. There were few problems, progress was rapid, and on 23 March the agreement was signed. It ratified the international border between former Palestine and Lebanon as the armistice line. Israeli forces withdrew from a number of Lebanese villages seized during operations in October 1948. Text of the agreement.

Preamble

The Parties to the present Agreement,

Responding to the Security Council resolution of 16 November 1948, calling upon them, as a further provisional measure under Article 40 of the Charter of the United Nations and in order to facilitate the transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine, to negotiate an armistice;

Having decided to enter into negotiations under United Nations Chairmanship concerning the implementation of the Security Council resolution of 16 November 1948; and having appointed representatives empowered to negotiate and conclude an Armistice Agreement;

The undersigned representatives, having exchanged their full powers found to be in good and proper form, have agreed upon the following provisions:
Article I

With a view to promoting the return of permanent peace in Palestine and in recognition of the importance in this regard of mutual assurances concerning the future military operations of the Parties, the following principles, which shall be fully observed by both Parties during the armistice, are hereby affirmed:
1. The injunction of the Security Council against resort to military force in settlement of the Palestine question shall henceforth be scrupulously respected by both Parties.

2. No aggressive action by the armed forces - land, sea or air - of either Party shall be undertaken, planned, or threatened against the people or the armed forces of the other; it being understood that the use of the term "planned" in this context has no bearing on normal staff planning as generally practised in military organisations.

3. The right of each Party to its security and freedom from fear of attack by the armed forces of the other shall be fully respected.

4. The establishment of an armistice between the armed forces of the two Parties is accepted as an indispensable step toward the liquidation of armed conflict and the restoration of peace in Palestine.

Article II

With a specific view to the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948, the following principles and purposes are affirmed:
1. The principle that no military or political advantage should be gained under the truce ordered by the Security Council is recognised.

2. It is also recognised that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.

Article III

1. In pursuance of the foregoing principles and of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948, a general armistice between the armed forces of the two Parties - land, sea and air - is hereby established.

2. No element of the land, sea or air military or para-military forces of either Party, including non-regular forces, shall commit any warlike or hostile act against the military or para-military forces of the other Party, or against civilians in territory under the control of that Party; or shall advance beyond or pass over for any purpose whatsoever the Armistice Demarcation Line set forth in Article V of this Agreement; or enter into or pass through the air space of the other Party or through the waters within three miles of the coastline of the other Party.

3. No warlike act or act of hostility shall be conducted from territory controlled by one of the Parties to this Agreement against the other Party.

Article IV

1. The line described in Article V of this Agreement shall be designated as the Armistice Demarcation Line and is delineated in pursuance of the purpose and intent of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948.

2. The basic purpose of the Armistice Demarcation Line is to delineate the line beyond which the armed forces of the respective Parties shall not move.

3. Rules and regulations of the armed forces of the Parties, which prohibit civilians from crossing the fighting lines or entering the area between the lines, shall remain in effect after the signing of this Agreement with application to the Armistice Demarcation Line defined in Article V.

Article V

1. The Armistice Demarcation Line shall follow the international boundary between the Lebanon and Palestine.

2. In the region of the Armistice Demarcation Line the military forces of the Parties shall consist of defensive forces only as is defined in the Annex to this Agreement.

3. Withdrawal of forces to the Armistice Demarcation Line and their reduction to defensive strength in accordance with the preceding paragraph shall be completed within ten days of the signing of this Agreement. In the same way the removal of mines from mined roads and areas evacuated by either Party, and the transmission of plans showing the location of such minefields to the other Party shall be completed within the same period.

Article VI

All prisoners of war detained by either Party to this Agreement and belonging to the armed forces, regular or irregular, of the other Party, shall be exchanged as follows:
1. The exchange of prisoners of war shall be under United Nations supervision and control throughout. The exchange shall take place at Ras en Naqoura within twenty-four hours of the signing of this Agreement.

2. Prisoners of war against whom a penal prosecution may be pending, as well as those sentenced for crime or other offence, shall be included in this exchange of prisoners.

3. All articles of personal use, valuables, letters, documents, identification marks, and other personal effects of whatever nature, belonging to prisoners of war who are being exchanged, shall be returned to them, or, if they have escaped or died, to the Party to whose armed forces they belonged.

4. All matters not specifically regulated in this Agreement shall be decided in accordance with the principles laid down in the International Convention Relating to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, signed at Geneva on 27 July

1929.

5. The Mixed Armistice Commission established in Article VII of this Agreement shall assume responsibility for locating missing persons, whether military or civilian, within the areas controlled by each Party, to facilitate their expeditious exchange. Each Party undertakes to extend to the Commission full co-operation and assistance in the discharge of this function.

Article VII

1. The execution of the provisions of this Agreement shall be supervised by a Mixed Armistice Commission composed of five members, of whom each Party to this Agreement shall designate two, and whose Chairman shall be the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation or a senior officer from the Observer personnel of that Organisation designated by him following consultation with both Parties to this Agreement.

2. The Mixed Armistice Commission shall maintain its headquarters at the Frolltier Post north of Metulla and at the Lebanese Frontier Post at En Naqoura and shall hold its meetings at such places and at such times as it may deem necessary for the effective conduct of its work.

3. The Mixed Armistice Commission shall be convened in its first meeting by the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation not later than one week following the signing of this Agreement.

4. Decisions of the Mixed Armistice Commission to the extent possible shall be based on the principle of unanimity. In the absence of unanimity decisions shall be taken by majority vote of the members of the Commission present and voting.

5. The Mixed Armistice Commission shall formulate its own rules of procedure. Meetings shall be held only after due notice to the members by the Chairman. The quorum for its meetings shall be a majority of its members.

6. The Commission shall be empowered to employ observers, who may be from among the military organisations of the Parties or from the military personnel of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation, or from both, in such numbers as may be considered essential to the performance of its functions. In the event United Nations Observers should be so employed, they shall remain under the command of the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation. Assignments of a general or special nature given to United Nations Observers attached to the Mixed Armistice Commission shall be subject to approval by the United Nations Chief of Staff or his designated representative on the Commission, whichever is serving as Chairman.

7. Claims or complaints presented by either Party relating to the application of this Agreement shall be referred immediately to the Mixed Armistice Commission through its Chairman. The Commission shall take such action on all such claims or complaints by means of its observation and investigation machinery as it may deem appropriate, with a view to equitable and mutually satisfactory settlement.

8. Where interpretation of the meaning of a particular provision of this Agreement, other than the Preamble and Articles I and II, is at issue, the Commission's interpretation shall prevail. The Commission, in its discretion and as the need arises, may from time to time recommend to the Parties modifications in the provisions of this Agreement.

9. The Mixed Armistice Commission shall submit to both Parties reports on its activities as frequently as it may consider necessary. A copy of each such report shall be presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for transmission to the appropriate organ or agency of the United Nations.

10. Members of the Commission and its Observers shall be accorded such freedom of movement and access in the area covered by this Agreement as the Commission may determine to be necessary, provided that when such decisions of the Commission are reached by a majority vote United Nations Observers only shall be employed.

11. The expenses of the Commission, other than those relating to United Nations Observers, shall be apportioned in equal shares between the two Parties to this Agreement.

Article VIII

1. The present Agreement is not subject to ratification and shall come into force immediately upon being signed.

2. This Agreement, having been negotiated and concluded in pursuance of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948 calling for the establishment of an armistice in order to eliminate the threat to the peace in Palestine and to facilitate the transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine, shall remain in force until a peaceful settlement between the Parties is achieved, except as provided in paragraph 3 of this Article.

3. The Parties to this Agreement may, by mutual consent, revise this Agreement or any of its provisions, or may suspend its application, other than Articles I and III, at any time. In the absence of mutual agreement and after this Agreement has been in effect for one year from the date of its signing, either of the Parties may call upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convoke a conference of representatives of the two Parties for the purpose of reviewing, revising, or suspending any of the provisions of this Agreement other than Articles I and III. Participation in such conference shall be obligatory upon the Parties.

4. If the conference provided for in paragraph 3 of this Article does not result in an agreed solution of a point in dispute, either Party may bring the matter before the Security Council of the United Nations for the relief sought on the grounds that this Agreement has been concluded in pursuance of Security Council action toward the end of achieving peace in Palestine.

5. This Agreement is signed in quintuplicate, of which one copy shall be retained by each Party, two copies communicated to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for transmission to the Security Council and to the United Nations Conciliation Commission on Palestine, and one copy to the Acting Mediator on Palestine.

Done at Ras En Naqoura on the twenty-third of March nineteen forty-nine, in the presence of the Personal Deputy of the United Nations Acting Mediator on Palestine and the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation.

For and on behalf of the Government of Israel

Signed:
Lieutenant-Colonel Mordechai Makleff Yehoshua Pelman Shabtai Rosenne

For and on behalf of the Government of the Lebanon

Signed:
Lieutenant-Colonel Toufic Salem Commandant J. Harb

Article XII

1. The Parties to this Agreement may, by mutual consent, revise this Agreement or any of its provisions, or may suspend its application, other than Articles I and II, at any time. In the absence of mutual agreement and after this Agreement has been in effect for one year from the date of its signing, either of the Parties may call upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convoke a conference of representatives of the two Parties for the purpose of reviewing, revising or suspending any of the provisions of this Agreement other than Articles I and II. This Agreement supersedes the Egyptian-Israeli General Cease- F ire Agreement entered into by the Parties on 24 January 1949.

6. This Agreement is signed in quintuplicate, of which one copy shall be retained by each Party, two copies communicated to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for transmission to the Security Council and to the United Nations Conciliation Commission on Palestine, and one copy to the Acting Mediator on Palestine.

In faith whereof the undersigned representatives of the Contracting Parties have signed hereafter, in the presence of the United Nations Acting Mediator on Palestine and the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation.

Done at Rhodes, Island of Rhodes, Greece, on the twenty-fourth of February nineteen forty-nine.

For and on behalf of the Government of Egypt

Signed: Mahmed Seif El Dine

M. K. El Raliniany

For and on behalf of the Government of Israel

Signed: Walter Eytan

Yigael Yadin

Elias Sasson

Annex I

Plan of Withdrawal from Al Faluja

The withdrawal of Egyptian troops with all of their military impedimenta from the Al Faluja area to points beyond the Egypt-Palestine frontier shall be executed in accordance with the following plan:
1. The withdrawal operation shall begin on 26th February 1949 at 0500 hours GMT and shall be under United Nations supervision and control throughout.

2. In view of the substantial number of troops involved and in the interest of minimising the possibility of friction and incidents and ensuring effective United Nations supervision during the operation, the execution of the withdrawal shall be completed within a period of five days from the effective date of the plan of withdrawal.

3. The road Al Faluja-Iraq Suweidan-Bureir-Gaza-Rafa shall be used as the route of withdrawal; provided that if this route proves impassable on the date of withdrawal the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation shall select an alternative route in consultation with both Parties.

4. At least forty-eight hours prior to the scheduled time of withdrawal the General Officer Commanding the Egyptian Forces in Palestine shall submit to the United Nations Chief of Staff (or his representative), for his approval, a detailed plan for the withdrawal of the Egyptian garrison at Al Faluja, to include:
the number of troops and amount and type of material to be withdrawn each day, the number and type of vehicles to be used each day in the withdrawal movement, and the number of trips necessary to complete each day's movement.

5. The detailed plan referred to in paragraph 4 above shall be based on an order of priority in the withdrawal operation defined by the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision which shall provide inter alia that following the evacuation of sick and Wounded already accounted for, infantry forces together with their personal arms and possessions shall be first evacuated. and heavy equipment only in the final stages of the operation. Heavy equipment is to be defined as artillery, armoured cars, tanks, and Bren gun carriers. With a view toward eliminating any possibility of incidents, following the arrival of the infantry contingents at their destination, the evacuation of heavy equipment shall be to a point in Egyptian territory to be designated by the United Nations Chief of Staff and there, as Egyptian property, to be placed and kept under custody, guard and seal of the United Nations until such time as the Chief of Staff is satisfied that the Armistice has become effective, whereupon this equipment will be handed over to the appropriate Egyptian authorities.

6. The Israeli authorities and officers in the Al Faluja-Gaza area shall extend their full co-operation to the operation and shall be responsible for ensuring that during the withdrawal movements the route to be followed shall be free of obstructions of all kinds and that during the operation Israeli troops shall be kept away from the roads over which the withdrawal will take place.

7. United Nations Military Observers shall be stationed with both the Egyptian and Israeli forces to ensure that this plan of withdrawal, and such subsequent instructions relating to its execution as may be issued by the United Nations Chief of Staff, are fully complied with by both Parties. Such inspections as may be necessary in the conduct of the withdrawal shall be made exclusively by United Nations Military Observers, and their decisions in all such cases shall be accepted as final.

On the sole basis of military considerations involving the forces of the two Parties to this Agreement as well as third party forces in the area not covered by this Agreement, the demarcation of the western and eastern fronts in Palestine is to be understood as follows:
a. Western Front:
The area south and west of the line delineated in paragraph 2.A of the Memorandum of 13 November 1948 on the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 4 November 1948, from its point of origin on the west to the point at MR 12581196, thence south along the road to Hatta-Al Faluja - RJ at MR 12140823 - Beersheba and ending north of Bir Asluj at point 402.

b. Eastern Front:
The area east of the line described in paragraph a above, and from point 402 down to the southernmost tip of Palestine, by a straight line marking half the distance between the Egypt-Palestine and Transjordan-Palestine frontiers.

W E. Riley

Brig. Gen. William E. Riley United States Marine Corps

United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organisation

Rhodes, 24th February, 1949

Annex III

Definition of Defensive Forces

I. Land Forces

1. Shall not exceed:
(a) 3 inf btns, each bn to consist of not more than 800 officers and o.r's and composed of not more than

(i) 4 rifle coys with ordinary inf. S. A. equipment (rifles, LMG's, SMG's, light mortars (e.g. 2"), A/tk rifles or Piat,

(ii) I support coy with not more than 6 MMG's, 6 mortars not heavier than 3", 4 A/tk guns not heavier than 6 pdrs,

(iii) 1 HQ coy.

(b) 1 bty of 8 field guns not heavier than 25 pdrs.

(c) 1 bty of 8 A.A. guns not heavier than 40 mm.

2. The following are excluded from the term "Defensive Forces":
(a) Armour, such as tanks, AC's, Bren-carriers, half-tracks, load carriers or any other AFV's.

(b) All support arms and units other than those specified in paragraph 1(a) (ii), l(b) and l(c) above.

3. Service units will be in accordance with a plan to be prepared and approved by the Mixed Armistice Commission.

II. Air Forces

In the areas where Defensive Forces only will be allowed the following stipulations regarding air forces will be observed:
1. No military air fields, airstrips, landing grounds or installations shall be maintained.

2. No military aircraft shall take off or land except in an emergency.

III. Sea Forces

No naval base shall be established in areas where Defensive Forces only will be allowed, nor shall any warship or military vessel enter the territorial waters adjacent thereto.

IV.

In the areas in which defensive forces only are to be maintained, the necessary reduction of forces shall be completed within four weeks from the date on which this agreement is signed.

Exchange of Letters.

To: Dr. Walter Eytan, Rhodes, 24th February, 1949

Head of the Israeli Delegation at Rhodes

From: Ralph J. Bunche, Acting Mediator

In connection with the Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, your confirmation is desired of the understanding that no Israeli forces shall be in the village of Bir Aslui.

Signed: Ralph J. Bunche

To: Dr. Ralph J. Bunche, Rhodes, 24th February, 1949

Acting Mediator on Palestine, Rhodes

From: Walter Eytan,

Head of the Israeli Delegation

In connection with the Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement I confirm the understanding that no Israeli forces shall be in the village of Bir Asluj.

Signed: Walter Eytan

To: Dr. Bunche, Acting Mediator

In connection with the Egyptian- Israeli General Armistice Agreement, your confirmation is desired of the understanding that in the course of the evacuation of the Egyptian Force at Al Faluja, provided for in Article III of the Agreement, such of the civilian population at Al Faluja and Iraq Al Manshiya as may wish to do so may also be evacuated along with the Egyptian Force, Those of the civilian population who may wish to remain in Al Faluja and Iraq Al Manshiya are to be permitted to do so. Those of the civilian population who may wish to do so may proceed to the Hebron area under United Nations escort and supervision. All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects.

Signed: Ralph J. Bunche, Rhodes, 24th February, 1949

Acting Mediator on Palestine, Rhodes

From: Walter Eytan

Head of the Israeli Delegation at Rhodes

In connection with the Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, I confirm the understanding that, in the course of the evacuation of the Egyptian Force at Al Faluja, provided for in Article III of the Agreement, such of the civilian population at Al Faluja and Iraq Al Manshiya as may wish to do so may also be evacuated along with the Egyptian force. Those of the civilian population who may wish to remain in Al Faluja and Iraq Al Manshiya are to be permitted to do so. All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects.

The Government of Israel reserves the right to treat as prisoners of war any persons electing to remain in the Al Faluja and Iraq Al Manshiya areas who may be identified as having taken part in the fighting in Palestine.

Signed: Walter Eytan

To: Dr. Bunche, Acting Mediator

In connection with the Egyptian- Israeli General Armistice Agreement your confirmation is desired of the understanding that at any time following the signing of this Agreement, the Egyptian Forces now in the Bethlehem-Hebron area, together with all of their arms, equipment, personal possessions and vehicles, may be withdrawn across the Egyptian frontier exclusively under United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision in consultation with the appropriate Israeli authorities.

Signed: Ralph J. Bunche, Rhodes, 24th February, 1949

Acting Mediator on Palestine, Rhodes

From: Walter Eytan,

Head of the Israeli Delegation at Rhodes

In connection with the Egyptian- Israeli General Armistice Agreement I confirm the understanding that at any time following the signing of this Agreement, the Egyptian Forces now in the Bethlehem-Hebron area, together with all of their arms, equipment, personal possessions and vehicles, may be withdrawn across the Egyptian frontier exclusively under United Nations supervision and escort, and by a direct route to be determined by the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision in consultation with the appropriate Israeli authorities.

Signed: Walter Eytan

To: Colonel Seif El Dine, Rhodes, 24th February, 1949

Head of the Egyptian Delegation at Rhodes

From: Ralph J. Bunche, Acting Mediator

In connection with the Egyptian-Israel General Armistice Agreement your confirmation is desired of the understanding that my military camps or corporate localities now astride the Hatta-Al-Faluj a-Beersheba road, or which are located not more than 200 metres west of this road, shall be considered as falling within the area of the eastern front as defined in Annex II of the Agreement.

Signed: Ralph J. Bunche, Rhodes, 24th February, 1949

Acting Mediator on Palestine, Rhodes

From: Colonel Seif El Dine

In reply to your note dated February 19th 1949, I beg to inform you that the Egyptian Delegation agrees to consider any military camps or corporate localities now astride the Hatta-Al-Faluja-Beersheba road, which are located at not more than 200 meters west of this road, as falling within the area of the eastern front as defined in Annex II of the Armistice Agreement signed today.

Seif El Dine


Israel/Borders

The border with Egypt was demarcated in 1906 between Britain and the Ottoman Empire. [ citation needed ] The borders with Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are based on those drawn up by the United Kingdom and France in anticipation of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War and the carve up of the Ottoman Empire between them. [ dubious-discuss ] They are referred to as the 1923 borders, being those of Mandate Palestine, which were settled in 1923. [ citation needed ]

Israel's borders with Egypt and Jordan have now been formally recognised as part of the peace treaties with those countries, and with Lebanon as part of the 1949 Armistice Agreement. [ dubious-discuss ] The borders with Syria and the Palestinian territories are not settled. Israel's borders with the West Bank and Gaza Strip are currently the Green Line except in East Jerusalem, which Israel claims to have unilaterally annexed but has not been recognised by any other nation. [ citation needed ] The ceasefire line with Syria runs along the UN-monitored boundary between the Golan Heights and Syrian sovereign territory.

This article is intended as an adjunct to the Wikipedia article here, intending it to form the basis for a balanced article written to a Neutral Point of View, within which all significant views are presented in accordance to their historical weight. It has not yet had the modifications necessary.


Israel Lebanon Armistice March 23 - History

Geography:
Area: 10,400 sq. km. (4,015 sq. km.) about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut.
Cities: Capital--Beirut (pop. 1.5 million). Other cities--Tripoli/Trablus (210,000), Zahle (60,000),
Sidon/Sayda (50,000), Tyre/Sur (20,000), Byblos/Jbail (10,000).
Terrain: Narrow coastal plain El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains.
Climate: Mediterranean mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows.

People:
Nationality: noun and adjective--Lebanese (singular and plural).
Population (2006 est.): 3,874,050.
Growth rate (2006 est.): 1.23%.
Major ethnic groups: Arab 95%, Armenian 4%, other 1% (note: many Christian Lebanese do not identify themselves as Arab but rather as descendents of the ancient Canaanites and prefer to be called Phoenicians).
Religions: Muslim 60% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ili, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant), other 1%.
Languages: Arabic (official), English, French, Armenian.
Education: Years compulsory--8. Attendance--99%. Literacy (2005 est.)--87.4% 93.1% male, 82.2% female.
Health (2006 est.): Infant mortality rate--23.7/1,000. Life expectancy--70.41 male, 75.48 female.
Work force (2001 est.): 2.6 million.

Government:
Type: Republic.
Independence: November 22, 1943.
Constitution: May 23, 1926.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state), prime minister (head of government), deputy prime minister, cabinet. Legislative--unicameral national assembly. Judicial--four Courts of Cassation, Constitutional Council, Supreme Council.
Administrative subdivisions: 8 governorates.
Political parties: Amal Movement, Ba'ath Party, Democratic Left, Democratic Renewal Movement, Free Patriotic Movement, Future Movement, Hezbollah, Kataeb Party, Kataeb Reform Movement, Lebanese Forces, National Bloc, Marada Movement, Nasserite Popular Movement, National Liberal Party, Popular Bloc, Progressive Socialist Party, Qornet Shehwan Gathering, Syrian Social National Party, Tachnaq Party.
A principal divide in current Lebanese politics is between pro-and anti-Syrian forces, often referred to, respectively, as March 8 and March 14, after major demonstrations they organized in 2005. "March 8" consists principally of the Shi'ite Amal and Hezbollah, now allied with the Free Patriotic Movement (Christian), while March 14 includes the Future Movement (Sunni), Progressive Socialist Party (Druze), and Lebanese Forces and Qornet Shehwan Gathering (both Christian).
Suffrage: 21 compulsory for all males authorized for women at 21 with elementary education.

Economy:
GDP (2006 est.): $21.5 billion.
GDP growth rate (2006 est.): (-5%).
Per capita GDP (2006 est.): $5,500.
Natural resources: limestone, iron ore, salt.
Agriculture: Products--citrus, grapes, tomatoes, apples, vegetables, potatoes, olives, tobacco sheep, goats. Arable land--18%.
Industry: Types--banking, tourism, food processing, jewelry, cement, textiles, mineral and chemical products, wood and furniture products, oil refining, metal fabricating.
Trade: Exports--$1.88 billion (2005 est., f.o.b.): authentic jewelry, inorganic chemicals, miscellaneous consumer goods, fruit, tobacco, construction minerals, electric power machinery and switchgear, textile fibers, paper. Major markets--Syria, U.A.E., Switzerland, Turkey, Saudi Arabia. Imports--$9.34 billion (2005 est., f.o.b.): petroleum products, cars, medicinal products, clothing, meat and live animals, consumer goods, paper, textile fabrics, tobacco. Major suppliers--Italy, Syria, France, Germany, China, U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia.

PEOPLE
The population of Lebanon comprises various Christian and Muslim sects as well as Druze. No official census has been taken since 1932, reflecting the political sensitivity in Lebanon over confessional (religious) balance. While there is no consensus over the confessional breakdown of the population for this reason, it is safe to say that the Muslim sects as a whole make up a majority, and that Shi'ites, Sunnis, and Maronites are the three largest groups.

About 400,000 Palestinian refugees, some in Lebanon since 1948, are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). They are not accorded the legal rights enjoyed by the rest of the population.

With no official figures available, it is estimated that 600,000-900,000 persons fled the country during the initial years of civil war (1975-76). Although some returned, continuing conflict through 1990 as well as after the 2006 war sparked further waves of emigration, casting even more doubt on population figures. As much as 7% of the population was killed during the civil war between 1975 and 1990. Approximately 17,000-20,000 people are still "missing" or unaccounted for from the civil war period.

Many Lebanese still derive their living from agriculture. The urban population, concentrated mainly in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, is noted for its commercial enterprise. A century and a half of migration and return have produced Lebanese commercial networks around the globe--from North and South America to Europe, the Gulf, and Africa. Lebanon has a high proportion of skilled labor compared with many other Arab countries.

GOVERNMENT
Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy in which the people constitutionally have the right to change their government. However, from the mid-1970s until the parliamentary elections in 1992, civil war precluded the effective exercise of political rights. According to the constitution, direct elections must be held for the parliament every 4 years. Parliament, in turn, is tasked to elect a new president every 6 years. A presidential election scheduled for the autumn of 2004 was pre-empted by a parliamentary vote to extend the sitting President's term in office by 3 years. The president and parliament choose the prime minister. Political parties may be formed. However, the political parties that do exist are weak and mostly based on sectarian interests.

Since the emergence of the post-1943 state, national policy has been determined largely by a relatively restricted group of traditional regional and sectarian leaders. The 1943 national pact, an unwritten agreement that established the political foundations of modern Lebanon, allocated political power on an essentially confessional system based on the 1932 census. Until 1990, seats in parliament were divided on a 6-to-5 ratio of Christians to Muslims (with Druze counted as Muslims). With the Ta'if Agreement, the ratio changed to half and half. Positions in the government bureaucracy are allocated on a similar basis. Indeed, gaining political office is virtually impossible without the firm backing of a particular religious or confessional group. The pact also allocated public offices along religious lines, with the top three positions in the ruling "troika" distributed as follows:

  • The presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian
  • The prime minister, a Sunni Muslim, and
  • The speaker of parliament, a Shi'a Muslim.

Efforts to alter or abolish the confessional system of allocating power have been at the center of Lebanese politics for decades. Those religious groups most favored by the 1943 formula sought to preserve it, while those who saw themselves at a disadvantage sought either to revise it after updating key demographic data or to abolish it entirely. Nonetheless, many of the provisions of the national pact were codified in the 1989 Ta'if Agreement, perpetuating sectarianism as a key element of Lebanese political life.

Although moderated somewhat under Ta'if, constitutionally, the president has a strong and influential position. The president has the authority to promulgate laws passed by the Chamber of Deputies, to issue supplementary regulations to ensure the execution of laws, and to negotiate and ratify treaties.

The Chamber of Deputies is elected by adult suffrage (majority age is 21) based on a system of proportional representation for the various confessional groups. Political blocs are usually based on confessional and local interests or on personal/family allegiance rather than on left/right policy orientations.

The parliament traditionally has played a significant role in financial affairs, since it has the responsibility for levying taxes and passing the budget. It also exercises political control over the cabinet through formal questioning of ministers on policy issues and by requesting a confidence debate.

Lebanon's judicial system is based on the Napoleonic Code. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system has three levels--courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within particular religious communities, e.g., rules on such matters as marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

US-LEBANESE RELATIONS
The United States seeks to maintain its traditionally close ties with Lebanon, and to help preserve its independence, sovereignty, national unity, and territorial integrity. The United States, along with the international community, supports full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, including the disarming of all militias and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces throughout Lebanon. The United States believes that a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

One measure of U.S. concern and involvement has been a program of relief, rehabilitation, and recovery that from 1975 through 2005 totaled more than $400 million in aid to Lebanon. For relief, recovery, rebuilding, and security in the wake of the 2006 war, the U.S. Government substantially stepped up this program, pledging well over $1 billion in additional assistance for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years. This support reflects not only humanitarian concerns and historical ties but also the importance the United States attaches to sustainable development and the restoration of an independent, sovereign, unified Lebanon. Some of current funding is used to support the activities of U.S. and Lebanese private voluntary organizations engaged in rural and municipal development programs nationwide, improve the economic climate for global trade and investment, and enhance security and resettlement in south Lebanon. The U.S. also supports humanitarian demining and victims' assistance programs.

Over the years, the United States also has assisted the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Lebanese American University (LAU) with budget support and student scholarships. Assistance also has been provided to the Lebanese-American Community School (ACS) and the International College (IC).

1993, the U.S. resumed the International Military Education and Training program in Lebanon to help bolster the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)--the country's only nonsectarian national institution--and reinforce the importance of civilian control of the military. Sales of excess defense articles (EDA) resumed in 1991 and have allowed the LAF to enhance both its transportation and communications capabilities, which were severely degraded during the civil war. Security assistance to both the LAF and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) increased significantly after the 2006 war, in order to support the democratically elected Government of Lebanon as it carries out the requirements of UNSCR 1701 and asserts its sovereignty over the whole of Lebanese territory.

Principal Government Officials
President--Emile Lahoud
Prime Minister--Fouad Siniora
Speaker of Parliament--Nabih Berri
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Fawzi Salloukh (resigned--resignation not accepted)
Finance Minister--Jihad Azour
Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister--Elias Murr
Ambassador to the U.S.--Antoine Chedid
Ambassadorto the UN--Nawaf Salam

HISTORY
Lebanon is the historic home of the Phoenicians, Semitic traders whose maritime culture flourished there for more than 2,000 years (c.2700-450 B.C.). In later centuries, Lebanon's mountains were a refuge for Christians, and Crusaders established several strongholds there. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the League of Nations mandated the five provinces that comprise present-day Lebanon to France. Modern Lebanon's constitution, drawn up in 1926, specified a balance of political power among the various religious groups. The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops withdrew in 1946. Lebanon participated in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and signed an armistice with Israel on March 23, 1949.

Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade. In 1958, during the last months of President Camille Chamoun's term, an insurrection broke out, and U.S. forces were briefly dispatched to Lebanon in response to an appeal by the government. During the 1960s, Lebanon enjoyed a period of relative calm and Beirut-focused tourism and banking sector-driven prosperity. Other areas of the country, however, notably the South, North, and Bekaa Valley, remained poor in comparison.

In the early 1970's, difficulties arose over the presence of Palestinian refugees, many of whom arrived after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the secret 1969 Cairo Agreement permitting the establishment of Palestinian camps in Lebanon, and 1970 "Black September" hostilities in Jordan. Among the 1970 arrivals were Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Coupled with the Palestinian problem, Muslim and Christian differences grew more intense.

Beginning of the Civil War--1975-81
Full-scale civil war broke out in April 1975. After shots were fired at a church, gunmen in Christian East Beirut ambushed a busload of Palestinians. Palestinian forces joined predominantly leftist-Muslim factions as the fighting persisted, eventually spreading to most parts of the country and precipitating the Lebanese President's call for support from Syrian troops in June 1976. In fall of 1976, Arab summits in Riyadh and Cairo set out a plan to end the war. The resulting Arab Deterrent Force, which included Syrian troops already present, moved in to help separate the combatants. As an uneasy quiet settled over Beirut, security conditions in the south began to deteriorate.

After a PLO attack on a bus in northern Israel and Israeli retaliation that caused heavy casualties, Israel invaded Lebanon in March 1978, occupying most of the area south of the Litani River. In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 425 calling for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces and creating the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), charged with maintaining peace. Israeli forces withdrew later in 1978, turning over positions inside Lebanon along the border to their Lebanese ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA) under the leadership of Maj. Sa'ad Haddad, thus informally setting up a 12-mile wide "security zone" to protect Israeli territory from cross border attack.

U.S. Intervention--1982-84
An interim cease-fire brokered by the U.S. in 1981 among Syria, the PLO, and Israel was respected for almost a year. Several incidents, including PLO rocket attacks on northern Israel, as well as an assassination attempt on the Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom, led to the June 6, 1982 Israeli ground attack into Lebanon to remove PLO forces. Operation "Peace for Galilee" aimed at establishing a deeper security zone and pushing Syrian troops out of Lebanon, with a view toward paving the way for an Israeli-Lebanese peace agreement. With these aims in mind, Israeli forces drove 25 miles into Lebanon, moving into East Beirut with the support of Maronite Christian leaders and militia.

In August 1982, U.S. mediation resulted in the evacuation of Syrian troops and PLO fighters from Beirut. The agreement also provided for the deployment of a multinational force composed of U.S. Marines along with French and Italian units. A new President, Bashir Gemayel, was elected with acknowledged Israeli backing. On September 14, however, he was assassinated. The next day, Israeli troops crossed into West Beirut to secure Muslim militia strongholds and stood aside as Lebanese Christian militias massacred almost 800 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Israel's then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon was held indirectly responsible for the massacre by the Kahane Commission and later resigned. With U.S. backing, Amin Gemayel, chosen by the Lebanese parliament to succeed his brother as President, focused anew on securing the withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian forces. The multinational force returned.

On May 17, 1983, Lebanon, Israel, and the United States signed an agreement on Israeli withdrawal that was conditioned on the departure of Syrian troops. Syria opposed the agreement and declined to discuss the withdrawal of its troops, effectively stalemating further progress. In August 1983, Israel withdrew from the Shuf (southeast of Beirut), thus removing the buffer between the Druze and the Christian militias and triggering another round of brutal fighting. By September, the Druze had gained control over most of the Shuf, and Israeli forces had pulled out from all but the southern security zone, where they remained until May 2000. The virtual collapse of the Lebanese Army in February 1984, following the defection of many Muslim and Druze units to militias, was a major blow to the government. With the U.S. Marines looking ready to withdraw, Syria and Muslim groups stepped up pressure on Gemayal. On March 5, 1984 the Lebanese Government canceled the May 17 agreement the Marines departed a few weeks later.

This period of chaos witnessed the beginning of terrorist attacks launched against U.S. and Western interests. These included the April 18, 1983 suicide attack at the U.S. Embassy in West Beirut (63 dead), the bombing of the headquarters of U.S. and French forces on October 23, 1983 (298 dead), the assassination of American University of Beirut President Malcolm Kerr on January 18, 1984, and the bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex in East Beirut on September 20, 1984 (9 dead).

It also saw the rise of radicalism among a small number of Lebanese Muslim factions who believed that the successive Israeli and U.S. interventions in Lebanon were serving primarily Christian interests. It was from these factions that Hezbollah emerged from a loose coalition of Shi'a groups. Hezbollah employed terrorist tactics and was supported by Syria and Iran.

Worsening Conflict and Political Crisis--1985-89
Between 1985 and 1989, factional conflict worsened as various efforts at national reconciliation failed. Heavy fighting took place in the "War of the Camps" in 1985 and 1986 as the Shi'a Muslim Amal militia sought to rout the Palestinians from Lebanese strongholds. The Amal movement had been organized in mid-1975, at the beginning of the civil war, to confront what were seen as Israeli plans to displace the Lebanese population with Palestinians. (Its charismatic founder Imam Musa Sadr disappeared in Libya three years later. Its current leader, Nabih Berri, is the Speaker of the National Assembly.) The combat returned to Beirut in 1987, with Palestinians, leftists, and Druze fighters allied against Amal, eventually drawing further Syrian intervention. Violent confrontation flared up again in Beirut in 1988 between Amal and Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, on the political front, Prime Minister Rashid Karami, head of a government of national unity set up after the failed peace efforts of 1984, was assassinated on June 1, 1987. President Gemayel's term of office expired in September 1988. Before stepping down, he appointed another Maronite Christian, Lebanese Armed Forces Commanding General Michel Aoun, as acting Prime Minister, contravening Lebanon's unwritten "National Pact," which required the prime minister to be Sunni Muslim. Muslim groups rejected the move and pledged support to Salim al-Hoss, a Sunni who had succeeded Karami. Lebanon was thus divided between a Christian government in East Beirut and a Muslim government in West Beirut, with no president.

In February 1989 Aoun attacked the rival Lebanese Forces militia. By March he turned his attention to other militias, launching what he termed a "War of Liberation" against the Syrians and their Lebanese militia allies. In the months that followed, Aoun rejected both the agreement that ultimately ended the civil war and the election of another Christian leader as president. A Lebanese-Syrian military operation in October 1990 forced him to take refuge in the French Embassy in Beirut and later to go into a 15-year exile in Paris. After Syrian troop withdrawal, Aoun returned to Lebanon on May 7, 2005 and won a seat in the 2005 parliamentary elections. His Free Patriotic Movement became a principal element of the pro-Syrian opposition bloc.

End of the Civil War--1989-91
The Ta'if Agreement of 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the war. In January of that year, a committee appointed by the Arab League, chaired by Kuwait and including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Morocco, had begun to formulate solutions to the conflict, leading to a meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, where they agreed to the national reconciliation accord in October. Returning to Lebanon, they ratified the agreement on November 4 and elected Rene Moawad as President the following day. Moawad was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut on November 22 as his motorcade returned from Lebanese Independence Day ceremonies. Elias Hrawi, who remained in office until 1998, succeeded him.

In August 1990, parliament and the new President agreed on constitutional amendments embodying some of the political reforms envisioned at Ta'if. The National Assembly expanded to 128 seats and was divided equally between Christians and Muslims (with Druze counted as Muslims). In March 1991, parliament passed an amnesty law that pardoned all political crimes prior to its enactment. The amnesty was not extended to crimes perpetrated against foreign diplomats or certain crimes referred by the cabinet to the Higher Judicial Council. In May 1991, the militias (with the important exception of Hezbollah and Palestinian militias) were dissolved, and the Lebanese Armed Forces began to slowly rebuild itself as Lebanon's only major nonsectarian institution.

In all, it is estimated that more than 100,000 were killed, and another 100,000 left handicapped, during Lebanon's 16-year civil war. Up to one-fifth of the pre-war resident population, or about 900,000 people, were displaced from their homes, of which perhaps a quarter of a million emigrated permanently. The last of the Western hostages taken during the mid-1980s were released in May 1992.

Postwar Reconstruction--1992 to 2005
Postwar social and political instability, fueled by economic uncertainty and the collapse of the Lebanese currency, led to the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karami in May 1992, after less than 2 years in office. Former Prime Minister Rashid al Sulh, who was widely viewed as a caretaker to oversee Lebanon's first parliamentary elections in 20 years, replaced him.

By early November 1992, a new parliament had been elected, and Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri had formed a cabinet, retaining for himself the finance portfolio. The formation of a government headed by a successful billionaire businessman was widely seen as a sign that Lebanon would make a priority of rebuilding the country and reviving the economy. Solidere, a private real estate company set up to rebuild downtown Beirut, was a symbol of Hariri's strategy to link economic recovery to private sector investment. After the election of then-commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces Emile Lahoud in 1998, following Hrawi's extended term as President, Salim al-Hoss again served as Prime Minister. Hariri returned to office as Prime Minister in November 2000. Although problems with basic infrastructure and government services persist, and Lebanon is now highly indebted, much of the civil war damage was repaired throughout the country, and many foreign investors and tourists returned.

In early April 1996, Israel conducted a military operation dubbed "Grapes of Wrath" in response to Hezbollah's continued launching of rockets at villages in northern Israel. The 16-day operation caused hundreds of thousands of civilians in south Lebanon to flee their homes. On April 18, Hezbollah fired mortars at an Israeli military unit from a position near the UN compound at Qana, and the Israeli Army responded with artillery fire. Several Israeli shells struck the compound, killing 102 civilians sheltered there. In the "April Understanding" concluded on April 26, Israel and Hezbollah committed themselves to avoid targeting civilians and using populated areas to launch attacks. The Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group (ILMG), co-chaired by France and the United States, with Syria, Lebanon, and Israel all represented, was set up to implement the Understanding and assess reports of violations. ILMG ceased operations following the May 2000 Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon.

On May 23, 2000, the Israeli military carried out a total withdrawal of Israeli troops from the south and the Bekaa Valley, effectively ending 22 years of occupation. The SLA collapsed and about 6,000 SLA members and their families fled the country, although more than 3,000 had returned by November 2003. The military court tried all of the SLA operatives who remained in the country and the average sentence handed down was 1-year imprisonment.

On June 16, 2000, the UN Security Council adopted the report of the Secretary General verifying Israeli compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 425 (1978) and the withdrawal of Israeli troops to their side of the demarcated Lebanese-Israeli line of separation (the "Blue Line") mapped out by UN cartographers. (The international border between Lebanon and Israel is still to be determined in the framework of a peace agreement.) In August 2000, the Government of Lebanon deployed over 1,000 police and soldiers to the former security zone, but Hezbollah also maintained observation posts and conducted patrols along the Blue Line. While Lebanon and Syria initially agreed to respect the Blue Line, both since have registered objections and continue to argue that Israel has not fully withdrawn from Lebanese soil. As regional tension escalated with the Palestinian intifada in September 2000, Hezbollah cited Blue Line discrepancies when it reengaged Israel on October 7, taking three Israeli soldiers captive in an area known as Sheba'a Farms. (In 2001, the Israeli Government declared the three soldiers were believed to be dead.) Sheba'a Farms, a largely unpopulated area just south of the Blue Line opposite the Lebanese town of Sheba'a, was captured by Israel when it occupied Syria's Golan Heights in 1967. The Lebanese Government has repeatedly laid claim to the area since shortly before Israel's general withdrawal. Meanwhile, the Syrian Government has verbally stated that the Sheba'a Farms tract is Lebanese, but, as with the rest of the Lebanon-Syria border, has been unwilling to commit to a formal border demarcation in the area. As a result of secret mediation by the German Government, Israel released a number of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in early 2004 in exchange for Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli reservist abducted by Hezbollah in late 2000.

In January 2000 the government took action against Sunni Muslim extremists in the north who had attacked its soldiers, and it continues to act against groups such as Asbat al-Ansar, which has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, and other extremists. On January 24, 2002, Elie Hobeika, a former Lebanese Forces figure associated with the Sabra and Shatila massacres and who later served in three cabinets and the parliament, was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut.

A September 2004 vote by the Chamber of Deputies to amend the constitution to extend President Lahoud's term in office by 3 years amplified the question of Lebanese sovereignty and the continuing Syrian presence. The vote was clearly taken under Syrian pressure, exercised in part through Syria's military intelligence service, whose chief in Lebanon had acted as a virtual proconsul for many years. Syria, which views Lebanon as part of its own territory, has not signed a boundary agreement with Lebanon and does not have normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon. The UN Security Council expressed its concern over the situation by passing Resolution 1559, also in September 2004, which called for withdrawal of all remaining foreign forces from Lebanon, disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces throughout the country, and a free and fair electoral process in the presidential election.

Syrian Withdrawal--2005
Former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who had resisted Syria's effort to secure Lahoud's extension, and 19 others were assassinated in Beirut by a car bomb on February 14, 2005. The assassination spurred massive protests in Beirut and international pressure that led to the withdrawal of the remaining Syrian military troops from Lebanon on April 26. In the months that followed Hariri's assassination, journalist Samir Qassir, Lebanese politician George Hawi, and journalist Gebran Tueni were murdered by car bombs, and Defense Minister Elias Murr and journalist May Chidiac narrowly avoided a similar fate when they were targeted with car bombs. The UN International Independent Investigative Commission (UNIIIC) headed by Detlev Mehlis began an investigation of Hariri's assassination and related crimes, beginning with the October 2004 attempt to assassinate Communications Minister Marwan Hamadeh. Serge Brammertz took over the investigation at the beginning of 2006. In December 2006, the Lebanese Cabinet approved an agreement with the UN Security Council to create a Special Tribunal of international character which will be responsible for trying those who may be indicted as a result of the investigation. President Lahoud, Parliament Speaker Berri, and the Shia ministers who resigned from Lebanon's cabinet in November 2006 do not recognize the cabinet's decision on this matter, however.

Parliamentary elections were held May 29-June 19, 2005 and the anti-Syrian opposition led by Sa'ad Hariri, Rafiq Hariri's son, won a majority of 72 seats (out of 128). Hariri ally and former Finance Minister Fouad Siniora was named Prime Minister and Nabih Berri was reelected as Speaker of Parliament. Parliament approved the first "made-in-Lebanon" cabinet in almost 30 years on July 30. The ministerial statement of the new cabinet (which included two Hezbollah ministers), a summary of the new government's agenda and priorities, focused on political and economic reform, but also endorsed Hezbollah's right to possess military weapons to carry out a "national resistance" against the perceived Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah forces continued to launch sporadic military strikes on Israeli forces, drawing responses that produced casualties on both sides and, on two occasions in 2001, Israeli air strikes on Syrian radar sites in Lebanon. Israel continues to violate Lebanese sovereignty by conducting overflights of Lebanese territory north of the Blue Line. UNIFIL has recorded numerous violations of the Blue Line by both sides since the Israeli withdrawal. In general, however, the level of violence along the Israeli-Lebanon front decreased dramatically from May 2000 until mid-2006.

War with Israel--2006
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah guerillas crossed into Israel, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others, precipitating a war with Israel. Israeli air strikes hit Hezbollah positions in the south and strategic targets throughout Lebanon, and Israeli ground forces ground forces moved against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah resisted the ground attack and fired thousands of rockets at civilian targets in Israel. By the time the war ended, on Aug. 14, an estimated 1200 Lebanese civilians and hundreds of Hezbollah fighters had died, along with 119 Israeli military and 43 Israeli civilians. UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the war, provided for a ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal and lifting of blockades, disarming of Hezbollah and other militias, and a ban on unauthorized weapons transfers into Lebanon. UNSCR 1701 also significantly strengthened UNIFIL's mandate and authorized its enlargement from about 2,000 initially up to a maximum of 15,000. Bolstered by UNIFIL, which by the beginning of 2007 had more than 11,000 personnel, the Lebanese Armed Forces deployed to southern Lebanon and the border with Israel for the first time in almost four decades.

The war temporarily or permanently displaced roughly one-fourth of Lebanon's population, and caused enormous damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The country, which was already seriously indebted, suffered roughly $5 billion in damages and financial losses. The international community provided massive humanitarian relief, plus substantial aid for economic reconstruction and reform, with $940 million in aid pledged at an August 31, 2006 donors conference in Stockholm and $7.6 billion in pledges announced at a Paris conference January 25, 2007. Aid pledged in Paris was to be coordinated with the Lebanese Government's program for fiscal and economic reform.

Although Syria withdrew its military forces from Lebanon, intelligence assets remained, and Syria continues to have a strong influence in Lebanese politics. In November 2006, as Siniora's cabinet neared approval of the Hariri tribunal, pro-Syrian ministers, including all the Shi'ite ministers, withdrew from the cabinet. Led by Hezbollah, pro-Syrian forces began months of massive demonstrations, sit-ins, and occasional violence with the aim of either paralyzing or bringing down the cabinet. Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel, son of ex-president Amin Gemayel, was assassinated November 21.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Lebanese political institutions often play a secondary role to highly confessionalized personality-based politics. Powerful families also still play an independent role in mobilizing votes for both local and parliamentary elections. Nonetheless, a lively panoply of domestic political parties, some even predating independence, still exists. The largest are all confessional based. The Phalange, National Bloc, National Liberal Party, Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) are overwhelmingly Christian parties. Amal and Hezbollah are the main rivals for the organized Shi'a vote, and the PSP (Progressive Socialist Party) is the leading Druze party. In the recent parliamentary elections, an anti-Syrian opposition coalition ("March 14") emerged, led by Sa'ad Hariri's predominantly Sunni Future Movement and allied with Druze leader Jumblatt, the Qornet Shehwan coalition of center-right Christian politicians, Samir Geagea's mostly Maronite Lebanese Forces, and Elias Attallah's Democratic Left secular movement. In addition to domestic parties, there are branches of pan-Arab secular parties (Ba'ath, socialist and communist parties) that were active in the 1960s and throughout the period of civil war.

There are differences both between and among Muslim and Christian parties regarding the role of religion in state affairs. There is a very high degree of political activism among religious leaders across the sectarian spectrum. The interplay for position and power among the religious, political, and party leaders and groups produces a political tapestry of extraordinary complexity.

In the past, the system worked to produce a viable democracy. The civil war resulted in greater segregation across the confessional spectrum. Whether in political parties, places of residence, schools, media outlets, even workplaces, there is a lack of regular interaction across sectarian lines to facilitate the exchange of views and promote understanding.

Some Christians favor political and administrative decentralization of the government, with separate Muslim and Christian sectors operating within the framework of a confederation. Muslims, for the most part, prefer a unified, central government with an enhanced share of power commensurate with their larger share of the population. The trajectory of the Ta'if Agreement points towards a non-confessional system, but there has been no real movement in this direction in the decade and a half since Ta'if.

Palestinian refugees, predominantly Sunni Muslims, who numbered 405,525 in 2006 according to UNWRA, are not active on the domestic political scene. Nonetheless, they constitute an important minority whose naturalization/settlement in Lebanon is vigorously opposed by most Lebanese, who see them as a threat to Lebanon's delicate confessional balance. During 2002, parliament enacted legislation banning Palestinians from owning property in Lebanon. The Labor Ministry opened up professions previously closed to Palestinians in June 2005. The number of recent Iraqi refugees numbers in the tens of thousands and is believed to be growing.

ECONOMY
Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented main growth sectors include banking and tourism. According to the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade, Lebanon posted 5% real growth in 2004, with inflation running at 3%. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange or capital movement, and bank secrecy is strictly enforced. Lebanon has adopted a law to combat money laundering. There are practically no restrictions on foreign investment however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and a lack of adequate protection of intellectual property. There are no country-specific U.S. trade sanctions against Lebanon.

Lebanon embarked on a massive reconstruction program in 1992 to rebuild the country's physical and social infrastructure devastated by both the long civil war (1975-90) and the Israeli occupation of the south (1978-2000). In addition, the delicate social balance and the near-dissolution of central government institutions during the civil war handicapped the state as it sought to capture revenues to fund the recovery effort. Monetary stabilization coupled with high interest rate policies aggravated the debt service burden, leading to a substantial rise in budget deficits. Thus, the government accumulated significant debt, which by 2005 had reached $36 billion, or 185% of GDP. Unemployment is estimated at 18% officially, but in the absence of reliable statistics, some estimate it could be as high as 20-25%.

The government also has maintained a firm commitment to the Lebanese pound, which has been pegged to the dollar since September 1999. The government passed an Investment Development Law as well as laws for the privatization of the telecom and the electricity sector, signed the Euro-Med Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU) in March 2003, and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In order to increase revenues, the government introduced a 10% value added tax (VAT) that became applicable in February 2002 and a 5% tax that became applicable in February 2003.

Plagued by mounting indebtedness, Lebanon submitted a comprehensive program on its financing needs at the Paris II donors conference in November 2002 and succeeded in attracting pledges totaling $4.4 billion, including $3.1 billion to support fiscal adjustment and $1.2 billion to support economic development projects. Despite the substantial aid it had received, the government made little progress on its reform program, and by 2006, even before the war, the debt problem had grown worse. After the war, $940 million in relief and early reconstruction aid was pledged to Lebanon August 31, 2006 at a donors conference in Stockholm, and an additional $7.6 billion in assistance for reconstruction and economic stabilization was pledged January 25, 2007 at the International Conference for Support to Lebanon, "Paris III". Unlike the Paris II aid, much of the Paris III aid was to be contingent on Lebanon's meeting agreed benchmarks in implementing its proposed five-year economic and social reform program. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to initiate a Post-Conflict Program and to assign a team to Lebanon to provide technical assistance, to monitor the progress of reforms, and to advise donors on the timing of aid delivery.

The U.S. enjoys a strong exporter position with Lebanon, generally ranking as Lebanon's fifth-largest source of imported goods. More than 160 offices representing U.S. businesses currently operate in Lebanon. Since the lifting of the passport restriction in 1997 (see below), a number of large U.S. companies have opened branch or regional offices, including Microsoft, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, FedEx, UPS, General Electric, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Cisco, Eli Lilly, and Pepsi Cola.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
The foreign policy of Lebanon reflects its geographic location, the composition of its population, and its reliance on commerce and trade. Lebanon's foreign policy has been heavily influenced by neighboring Syria, which has also long influenced Lebanon's internal policies as well. Reflecting lingering feelings in Syria that Lebanon was unjustly separated from Syria by European powers, Syria and Lebanon have never formally agreed on their mutual boundaries, and, rather than having normal diplomatic relations, the two countries are linked by a Higher Council for Bilateral Relations. Syria has no embassy or equivalent office in Beirut, while Lebanon has an "Interest Office" in Damascus. The framework for relations was first codified in May 1991, when Lebanon and Syria signed a treaty of mutual cooperation. This treaty came out of the Ta'if Agreement, which stipulated "Lebanon is linked to Syria by distinctive ties deriving strength from kinship, history, and common interests." The Lebanese-Syria treaty calls for "coordination and cooperation between the two countries" that would serve the "interests of the two countries within the framework of sovereignty and independence of each." Numerous agreements on political, economic, security, and judicial affairs have followed over the years. Syria maintained troops in Lebanon from 1976 until 2005 however, even after the withdrawal of Syria's military troops, it is believed to have maintained intelligence assets in Lebanon. In any case, Syrian influence in Lebanese politics remains strong.

Lebanon, like most Arab states, does not recognize Israel, with which it has been technically at war since Israel's establishment. Lebanon participated in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and despite the 1948 Lebanon-Israel armistice, Lebanon's lack of control over the border region resulted in repeated border hostilities, initiated mainly by Palestinian exile groups from 1968 to 1982 and later by Hezbollah. These attacks led to Israeli counterattacks, including a 1978 invasion, a 1982 invasion and occupation which ended in 2000, and the 2006 war. Lebanon did not participate in the 1967 or 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, nor in the 1991 Gulf War. The success of the latter created new opportunities for Middle East peacemaking. In October 1991, under the sponsorship of the United States and the then-Soviet Union, Middle East peace talks were held in Madrid, Spain, where Israel and a majority of its Arab neighbors conducted direct bilateral negotiations to seek a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 (and 425 on Lebanon) and the concept of "land for peace." Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and representatives of the Palestinians continued negotiating until the Oslo interim peace accords were concluded between Israel and the Palestinians in September 1993 and Jordan and Israel signed an agreement in October 1994. In March 1996, Syria and Israel held another round of Madrid talks the Lebanon track did not convene. Lebanon has repeatedly called for a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem as a prerequisite to peace with Israel.

Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialed the accord in January 2002. Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements with several Arab states and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization. Aside from Syria, Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually all of the other Arab countries (despite historic tensions with Libya, the Palestinians, and Iraq), and hosted an Arab League Summit in March 2002 for the first time in more than 35 years. Lebanon also is a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference and maintains a close relationship with Iran, largely centered on Shi'a Muslim links. Lebanon is a member of the Francophone countries and hosted the Francophone Summit in October 2002.


Geography

  • Area: 10,400 km 2 . (4,015 km 2 .) about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut.
  • Cities: Capital—Beirut (pop. 1.5 million). Other cities—Tripoli/Trablus (210,000), Zahle (60,000),

Sidon/Sayda (50,000), Tyre/Sur (20,000), Byblos/Jbail (10,000).

  • Terrain: Narrow coastal plain El Beqaa (Bekaa Valley) separates Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains.
  • Climate: Mediterranean mild to cool, wet winters with hot, dry summers Lebanon mountains experience heavy winter snows.

Lebanon Department of State Background

Lebanon is the historic home of the Phoenicians, Semitic traders whose maritime culture flourished there for more than 2,000 years (c.2700-450 B.C.). In later centuries, Lebanon's mountains were a refuge for Christians, and Crusaders established several strongholds there. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the League of Nations mandated the five provinces that comprise present-day Lebanon to France. Modern Lebanon's constitution, drawn up in 1926, specified a balance of political power among the various religious groups. The country gained independence in 1943, and French troops withdrew in 1946. Lebanon participated in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and signed an armistice with Israel on March 23, 1949.

Lebanon's history since independence has been marked by periods of political turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut's position as a regional center for finance and trade. In 1958, during the last months of President Camille Chamoun's term, an insurrection broke out, and U.S. forces were briefly dispatched to Lebanon in response to an appeal by the government. During the 1960s, Lebanon enjoyed a period of relative calm and Beirut-focused tourism and banking sector-driven prosperity. Other areas of the country, however, notably the South, North, and Bekaa Valley, remained poor in comparison.

In the early 1970's, difficulties arose over the presence of Palestinian refugees, many of whom arrived after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the secret 1969 Cairo Agreement permitting the establishment of Palestinian camps in Lebanon, and 1970 "Black September" hostilities in Jordan. Among the 1970 arrivals were Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Coupled with the Palestinian problem, Muslim and Christian differences grew more intense.

Beginning of the Civil War--1975-81
Full-scale civil war broke out in April 1975. After shots were fired at a church, gunmen in Christian East Beirut ambushed a busload of Palestinians. Palestinian forces joined predominantly leftist-Muslim factions as the fighting persisted, eventually spreading to most parts of the country and precipitating the Lebanese President's call for support from Syrian troops in June 1976. In fall of 1976, Arab summits in Riyadh and Cairo set out a plan to end the war. The resulting Arab Deterrent Force, which included Syrian troops already present, moved in to help separate the combatants. As an uneasy quiet settled over Beirut, security conditions in the south began to deteriorate.

After a PLO attack on a bus in northern Israel and Israeli retaliation that caused heavy casualties, Israel invaded Lebanon in March 1978, occupying most of the area south of the Litani River. In response, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 425 calling for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces and creating the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), charged with maintaining peace. Israeli forces withdrew later in 1978, turning over positions inside Lebanon along the border to their Lebanese ally, the South Lebanon Army (SLA) under the leadership of Maj. Sa'ad Haddad, thus informally setting up a 12-mile wide "security zone" to protect Israeli territory from cross border attack.

U.S. Intervention--1982-84
An interim cease-fire brokered by the U.S. in 1981 among Syria, the PLO, and Israel was respected for almost a year. Several incidents, including PLO rocket attacks on northern Israel, as well as an assassination attempt on the Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom, led to the June 6, 1982 Israeli ground attack into Lebanon to remove PLO forces. Operation "Peace for Galilee" aimed at establishing a deeper security zone and pushing Syrian troops out of Lebanon, with a view toward paving the way for an Israeli-Lebanese peace agreement. With these aims in mind, Israeli forces drove 25 miles into Lebanon, moving into East Beirut with the support of Maronite Christian leaders and militia.

In August 1982, U.S. mediation resulted in the evacuation of Syrian troops and PLO fighters from Beirut. The agreement also provided for the deployment of a multinational force composed of U.S. Marines along with French and Italian units. A new President, Bashir Gemayel, was elected with acknowledged Israeli backing. On September 14, however, he was assassinated. The next day, Israeli troops crossed into West Beirut to secure Muslim militia strongholds and stood aside as Lebanese Christian militias massacred almost 800 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Israel's then-Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon was held indirectly responsible for the massacre by the Kahane Commission and later resigned. With U.S. backing, Amin Gemayel, chosen by the Lebanese parliament to succeed his brother as President, focused anew on securing the withdrawal of Israeli and Syrian forces. The multinational force returned.

On May 17, 1983, Lebanon, Israel, and the United States signed an agreement on Israeli withdrawal that was conditioned on the departure of Syrian troops. Syria opposed the agreement and declined to discuss the withdrawal of its troops, effectively stalemating further progress. In August 1983, Israel withdrew from the Shuf (southeast of Beirut), thus removing the buffer between the Druze and the Christian militias and triggering another round of brutal fighting. By September, the Druze had gained control over most of the Shuf, and Israeli forces had pulled out from all but the southern security zone, where they remained until May 2000. The virtual collapse of the Lebanese Army in February 1984, following the defection of many Muslim and Druze units to militias, was a major blow to the government. With the U.S. Marines looking ready to withdraw, Syria and Muslim groups stepped up pressure on Gemayal. On March 5, 1984 the Lebanese Government canceled the May 17 agreement the Marines departed a few weeks later.

This period of chaos witnessed the beginning of terrorist attacks launched against U.S. and Western interests. These included the April 18, 1983 suicide attack at the U.S. Embassy in West Beirut (63 dead), the bombing of the headquarters of U.S. and French forces on October 23, 1983 (298 dead), the assassination of American University of Beirut President Malcolm Kerr on January 18, 1984, and the bombing of the U.S. Embassy annex in East Beirut on September 20, 1984 (9 dead).

It also saw the rise of radicalism among a small number of Lebanese Muslim factions who believed that the successive Israeli and U.S. interventions in Lebanon were serving primarily Christian interests. It was from these factions that Hezbollah emerged from a loose coalition of Shi'a groups. Hezbollah employed terrorist tactics and was supported by Syria and Iran.

Worsening Conflict and Political Crisis--1985-89
Between 1985 and 1989, factional conflict worsened as various efforts at national reconciliation failed. Heavy fighting took place in the "War of the Camps" in 1985 and 1986 as the Shi'a Muslim Amal militia sought to rout the Palestinians from Lebanese strongholds. The Amal movement had been organized in mid-1975, at the beginning of the civil war, to confront what were seen as Israeli plans to displace the Lebanese population with Palestinians. (Its charismatic founder Imam Musa Sadr disappeared in Libya three years later. Its current leader, Nabih Berri, is the Speaker of the National Assembly.) The combat returned to Beirut in 1987, with Palestinians, leftists, and Druze fighters allied against Amal, eventually drawing further Syrian intervention. Violent confrontation flared up again in Beirut in 1988 between Amal and Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, on the political front, Prime Minister Rashid Karami, head of a government of national unity set up after the failed peace efforts of 1984, was assassinated on June 1, 1987. President Gemayel's term of office expired in September 1988. Before stepping down, he appointed another Maronite Christian, Lebanese Armed Forces Commanding General Michel Aoun, as acting Prime Minister, contravening Lebanon's unwritten "National Pact," which required the prime minister to be Sunni Muslim. Muslim groups rejected the move and pledged support to Salim al-Hoss, a Sunni who had succeeded Karami. Lebanon was thus divided between a Christian government in East Beirut and a Muslim government in West Beirut, with no president.

In February 1989 Aoun attacked the rival Lebanese Forces militia. By March he turned his attention to other militias, launching what he termed a "War of Liberation" against the Syrians and their Lebanese militia allies. In the months that followed, Aoun rejected both the agreement that ultimately ended the civil war and the election of another Christian leader as president. A Lebanese-Syrian military operation in October 1990 forced him to take refuge in the French Embassy in Beirut and later to go into a 15-year exile in Paris. After Syrian troop withdrawal, Aoun returned to Lebanon on May 7, 2005 and won a seat in the 2005 parliamentary elections. His Free Patriotic Movement became a principal element of the pro-Syrian opposition bloc.

End of the Civil War--1989-91
The Ta'if Agreement of 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the war. In January of that year, a committee appointed by the Arab League, chaired by Kuwait and including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Morocco, had begun to formulate solutions to the conflict, leading to a meeting of Lebanese parliamentarians in Ta'if, Saudi Arabia, where they agreed to the national reconciliation accord in October. Returning to Lebanon, they ratified the agreement on November 4 and elected Rene Moawad as President the following day. Moawad was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut on November 22 as his motorcade returned from Lebanese Independence Day ceremonies. Elias Hrawi, who remained in office until 1998, succeeded him.

In August 1990, parliament and the new President agreed on constitutional amendments embodying some of the political reforms envisioned at Ta'if. The National Assembly expanded to 128 seats and was divided equally between Christians and Muslims (with Druze counted as Muslims). In March 1991, parliament passed an amnesty law that pardoned all political crimes prior to its enactment. The amnesty was not extended to crimes perpetrated against foreign diplomats or certain crimes referred by the cabinet to the Higher Judicial Council. In May 1991, the militias (with the important exception of Hezbollah and Palestinian militias) were dissolved, and the Lebanese Armed Forces began to slowly rebuild itself as Lebanon's only major nonsectarian institution.

In all, it is estimated that more than 100,000 were killed, and another 100,000 left handicapped, during Lebanon's 16-year civil war. Up to one-fifth of the pre-war resident population, or about 900,000 people, were displaced from their homes, of which perhaps a quarter of a million emigrated permanently. The last of the Western hostages taken during the mid-1980s were released in May 1992.

Postwar Reconstruction--1992 to 2005
Postwar social and political instability, fueled by economic uncertainty and the collapse of the Lebanese currency, led to the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karami in May 1992, after less than 2 years in office. Former Prime Minister Rashid al Sulh, who was widely viewed as a caretaker to oversee Lebanon's first parliamentary elections in 20 years, replaced him.

By early November 1992, a new parliament had been elected, and Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri had formed a cabinet, retaining for himself the finance portfolio. The formation of a government headed by a successful billionaire businessman was widely seen as a sign that Lebanon would make a priority of rebuilding the country and reviving the economy. Solidere, a private real estate company set up to rebuild downtown Beirut, was a symbol of Hariri's strategy to link economic recovery to private sector investment. After the election of then-commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces Emile Lahoud in 1998, following Hrawi's extended term as President, Salim al-Hoss again served as Prime Minister. Hariri returned to office as Prime Minister in November 2000. Although problems with basic infrastructure and government services persist, and Lebanon is now highly indebted, much of the civil war damage was repaired throughout the country, and many foreign investors and tourists returned.

In early April 1996, Israel conducted a military operation dubbed "Grapes of Wrath" in response to Hezbollah's continued launching of rockets at villages in northern Israel. The 16-day operation caused hundreds of thousands of civilians in south Lebanon to flee their homes. On April 18, Hezbollah fired mortars at an Israeli military unit from a position near the UN compound at Qana, and the Israeli Army responded with artillery fire. Several Israeli shells struck the compound, killing 102 civilians sheltered there. In the "April Understanding" concluded on April 26, Israel and Hezbollah committed themselves to avoid targeting civilians and using populated areas to launch attacks. The Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group (ILMG), co-chaired by France and the United States, with Syria, Lebanon, and Israel all represented, was set up to implement the Understanding and assess reports of violations. ILMG ceased operations following the May 2000 Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon.

On May 23, 2000, the Israeli military carried out a total withdrawal of Israeli troops from the south and the Bekaa Valley, effectively ending 22 years of occupation. The SLA collapsed and about 6,000 SLA members and their families fled the country, although more than 3,000 had returned by November 2003. The military court tried all of the SLA operatives who remained in the country and the average sentence handed down was 1-year imprisonment.

On June 16, 2000, the UN Security Council adopted the report of the Secretary General verifying Israeli compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 425 (1978) and the withdrawal of Israeli troops to their side of the demarcated Lebanese-Israeli line of separation (the "Blue Line") mapped out by UN cartographers. (The international border between Lebanon and Israel is still to be determined in the framework of a peace agreement.) In August 2000, the Government of Lebanon deployed over 1,000 police and soldiers to the former security zone, but Hezbollah also maintained observation posts and conducted patrols along the Blue Line. While Lebanon and Syria initially agreed to respect the Blue Line, both since have registered objections and continue to argue that Israel has not fully withdrawn from Lebanese soil. As regional tension escalated with the Palestinian intifada in September 2000, Hezbollah cited Blue Line discrepancies when it reengaged Israel on October 7, taking three Israeli soldiers captive in an area known as Sheba'a Farms. (In 2001, the Israeli Government declared the three soldiers were believed to be dead.) Sheba'a Farms, a largely unpopulated area just south of the Blue Line opposite the Lebanese town of Sheba'a, was captured by Israel when it occupied Syria's Golan Heights in 1967. The Lebanese Government has repeatedly laid claim to the area since shortly before Israel's general withdrawal. Meanwhile, the Syrian Government has verbally stated that the Sheba'a Farms tract is Lebanese, but, as with the rest of the Lebanon-Syria border, has been unwilling to commit to a formal border demarcation in the area. As a result of secret mediation by the German Government, Israel released a number of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in early 2004 in exchange for Elhanan Tannenbaum, an Israeli reservist abducted by Hezbollah in late 2000.

In January 2000 the government took action against Sunni Muslim extremists in the north who had attacked its soldiers, and it continues to act against groups such as Asbat al-Ansar, which has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, and other extremists. On January 24, 2002, Elie Hobeika, a former Lebanese Forces figure associated with the Sabra and Shatila massacres and who later served in three cabinets and the parliament, was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut.

A September 2004 vote by the Chamber of Deputies to amend the constitution to extend President Lahoud's term in office by 3 years amplified the question of Lebanese sovereignty and the continuing Syrian presence. The vote was clearly taken under Syrian pressure, exercised in part through Syria's military intelligence service, whose chief in Lebanon had acted as a virtual proconsul for many years. Syria, which views Lebanon as part of its own territory, has not signed a boundary agreement with Lebanon and does not have normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon. The UN Security Council expressed its concern over the situation by passing Resolution 1559, also in September 2004, which called for withdrawal of all remaining foreign forces from Lebanon, disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces throughout the country, and a free and fair electoral process in the presidential election.

Syrian Withdrawal--2005
Former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, who had resisted Syria's effort to secure Lahoud's extension, and 19 others were assassinated in Beirut by a car bomb on February 14, 2005. The assassination spurred massive protests in Beirut and international pressure that led to the withdrawal of the remaining Syrian military troops from Lebanon on April 26. In the months that followed Hariri's assassination, journalist Samir Qassir, Lebanese politician George Hawi, and journalist Gebran Tueni were murdered by car bombs, and Defense Minister Elias Murr and journalist May Chidiac narrowly avoided a similar fate when they were targeted with car bombs. The UN International Independent Investigative Commission (UNIIIC) headed by Detlev Mehlis began an investigation of Hariri's assassination and related crimes, beginning with the October 2004 attempt to assassinate Communications Minister Marwan Hamadeh. Serge Brammertz took over the investigation at the beginning of 2006. In December 2006, the Lebanese Cabinet approved an agreement with the UN Security Council to create a Special Tribunal of international character which will be responsible for trying those who may be indicted as a result of the investigation. President Lahoud, Parliament Speaker Berri, and the Shia ministers who resigned from Lebanon's cabinet in November 2006 do not recognize the cabinet's decision on this matter, however.

Parliamentary elections were held May 29-June 19, 2005 and the anti-Syrian opposition led by Sa'ad Hariri, Rafiq Hariri's son, won a majority of 72 seats (out of 128). Hariri ally and former Finance Minister Fouad Siniora was named Prime Minister and Nabih Berri was reelected as Speaker of Parliament. Parliament approved the first "made-in-Lebanon" cabinet in almost 30 years on July 30. The ministerial statement of the new cabinet (which included two Hezbollah ministers), a summary of the new government's agenda and priorities, focused on political and economic reform, but also endorsed Hezbollah's right to possess military weapons to carry out a "national resistance" against the perceived Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah forces continued to launch sporadic military strikes on Israeli forces, drawing responses that produced casualties on both sides and, on two occasions in 2001, Israeli air strikes on Syrian radar sites in Lebanon. Israel continues to violate Lebanese sovereignty by conducting overflights of Lebanese territory north of the Blue Line. UNIFIL has recorded numerous violations of the Blue Line by both sides since the Israeli withdrawal. In general, however, the level of violence along the Israeli-Lebanon front decreased dramatically from May 2000 until mid-2006.

War with Israel--2006
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah guerillas crossed into Israel, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others, precipitating a war with Israel. Israeli air strikes hit Hezbollah positions in the south and strategic targets throughout Lebanon, and Israeli ground forces ground forces moved against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah resisted the ground attack and fired thousands of rockets at civilian targets in Israel. By the time the war ended, on Aug. 14, an estimated 1200 Lebanese civilians and hundreds of Hezbollah fighters had died, along with 119 Israeli military and 43 Israeli civilians. UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the war, provided for a ceasefire, Israeli withdrawal and lifting of blockades, disarming of Hezbollah and other militias, and a ban on unauthorized weapons transfers into Lebanon. UNSCR 1701 also significantly strengthened UNIFIL's mandate and authorized its enlargement from about 2,000 initially up to a maximum of 15,000. Bolstered by UNIFIL, which by the beginning of 2007 had more than 11,000 personnel, the Lebanese Armed Forces deployed to southern Lebanon and the border with Israel for the first time in almost four decades.

The war temporarily or permanently displaced roughly one-fourth of Lebanon's population, and caused enormous damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The country, which was already seriously indebted, suffered roughly $5 billion in damages and financial losses. The international community provided massive humanitarian relief, plus substantial aid for economic reconstruction and reform, with $940 million in aid pledged at an August 31, 2006 donors conference in Stockholm and $7.6 billion in pledges announced at a Paris conference January 25, 2007. Aid pledged in Paris was to be coordinated with the Lebanese Government's program for fiscal and economic reform.

.Although Syria withdrew its military forces from Lebanon, intelligence assets remained, and Syria continues to have a strong influence in Lebanese politics. In November 2006, as Siniora's cabinet neared approval of the Hariri tribunal, pro-Syrian ministers, including all the Shi'ite ministers, withdrew from the cabinet. Led by Hezbollah, pro-Syrian forces began months of massive demonstrations, sit-ins, and occasional violence with the aim of either paralyzing or bringing down the cabinet. Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel, son of ex-president Amin Gemayel, was assassinated November 21.

GOVERNMENT

Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy in which the people constitutionally have the right to change their government. However, from the mid-1970s until the parliamentary elections in 1992, civil war precluded the effective exercise of political rights. According to the constitution, direct elections must be held for the parliament every 4 years. Parliament, in turn, is tasked to elect a new president every 6 years. A presidential election scheduled for the autumn of 2004 was pre-empted by a parliamentary vote to extend the sitting President's term in office by 3 years. The president and parliament choose the prime minister. Political parties may be formed. However, the political parties that do exist are weak and mostly based on sectarian interests.

Since the emergence of the post-1943 state, national policy has been determined largely by a relatively restricted group of traditional regional and sectarian leaders. The 1943 national pact, an unwritten agreement that established the political foundations of modern Lebanon, allocated political power on an essentially confessional system based on the 1932 census. Until 1990, seats in parliament were divided on a 6-to-5 ratio of Christians to Muslims (with Druze counted as Muslims). With the Ta'if Agreement, the ratio changed to half and half. Positions in the government bureaucracy are allocated on a similar basis. Indeed, gaining political office is virtually impossible without the firm backing of a particular religious or confessional group. The pact also allocated public offices along religious lines, with the top three positions in the ruling "troika" distributed as follows:

  • The presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian
  • The prime minister, a Sunni Muslim, and
  • The speaker of parliament, a Shi'a Muslim.

Efforts to alter or abolish the confessional system of allocating power have been at the center of Lebanese politics for decades. Those religious groups most favored by the 1943 formula sought to preserve it, while those who saw themselves at a disadvantage sought either to revise it after updating key demographic data or to abolish it entirely. Nonetheless, many of the provisions of the national pact were codified in the 1989 Ta'if Agreement, perpetuating sectarianism as a key element of Lebanese political life.

Although moderated somewhat under Ta'if, constitutionally, the president has a strong and influential position. The president has the authority to promulgate laws passed by the Chamber of Deputies, to issue supplementary regulations to ensure the execution of laws, and to negotiate and ratify treaties.

The Chamber of Deputies is elected by adult suffrage (majority age is 21) based on a system of proportional representation for the various confessional groups. Political blocs are usually based on confessional and local interests or on personal/family allegiance rather than on left/right policy orientations.

The parliament traditionally has played a significant role in financial affairs, since it has the responsibility for levying taxes and passing the budget. It also exercises political control over the cabinet through formal questioning of ministers on policy issues and by requesting a confidence debate.

Lebanon's judicial system is based on the Napoleonic Code. Juries are not used in trials. The Lebanese court system has three levels--courts of first instance, courts of appeal, and the court of cassation. There also is a system of religious courts having jurisdiction over personal status matters within particular religious communities, e.g., rules on such matters as marriage, divorce, and inheritance.

Principal Government Officials
President--Emile Lahoud
Prime Minister--Fouad Siniora
Speaker of Parliament--Nabih Berri
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Fawzi Salloukh (resigned--resignation not accepted)
Finance Minister--Jihad Azour
Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister--Elias Murr
Ambassador-designate to the U.S.--Antoine Chedid (appointed, but not yet approved)
Ambassador-designate to the UN--Nawaf Salam (appointed, but not yet approved)

Lebanon maintains an embassy in the United States at 2560 28th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 939-6300. There also are three consulates general in the United States: 1959 East Jefferson, Suite 4A, Detroit, MI 48207, tel. (313) 567-0233/0234 7060 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 510, Los Angeles, CA 90028, tel. (213) 467-1253/1254 and 9 East 76th Street, New York, N.Y. l0021, tel. (212) 744-7905/7906 and 744-7985.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Lebanese political institutions often play a secondary role to highly confessionalized personality-based politics. Powerful families also still play an independent role in mobilizing votes for both local and parliamentary elections. Nonetheless, a lively panoply of domestic political parties, some even predating independence, still exists. The largest are all confessional based. The Phalange, National Bloc, National Liberal Party, Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) are overwhelmingly Christian parties. Amal and Hezbollah are the main rivals for the organized Shi'a vote, and the PSP (Progressive Socialist Party) is the leading Druze party. In the recent parliamentary elections, an anti-Syrian opposition coalition ("March 14") emerged, led by Sa'ad Hariri's predominantly Sunni Future Movement and allied with Druze leader Jumblatt, the Qornet Shehwan coalition of center-right Christian politicians, Samir Geagea's mostly Maronite Lebanese Forces, and Elias Attallah's Democratic Left secular movement. In addition to domestic parties, there are branches of pan-Arab secular parties (Ba'ath, socialist and communist parties) that were active in the 1960s and throughout the period of civil war.

There are differences both between and among Muslim and Christian parties regarding the role of religion in state affairs. There is a very high degree of political activism among religious leaders across the sectarian spectrum. The interplay for position and power among the religious, political, and party leaders and groups produces a political tapestry of extraordinary complexity.

In the past, the system worked to produce a viable democracy. The civil war resulted in greater segregation across the confessional spectrum. Whether in political parties, places of residence, schools, media outlets, even workplaces, there is a lack of regular interaction across sectarian lines to facilitate the exchange of views and promote understanding.

Some Christians favor political and administrative decentralization of the government, with separate Muslim and Christian sectors operating within the framework of a confederation. Muslims, for the most part, prefer a unified, central government with an enhanced share of power commensurate with their larger share of the population. The trajectory of the Ta'if Agreement points towards a non-confessional system, but there has been no real movement in this direction in the decade and a half since Ta'if.

Palestinian refugees, predominantly Sunni Muslims, who numbered 405,525 in 2006 according to UNWRA, are not active on the domestic political scene. Nonetheless, they constitute an important minority whose naturalization/settlement in Lebanon is vigorously opposed by most Lebanese, who see them as a threat to Lebanon's delicate confessional balance. During 2002, parliament enacted legislation banning Palestinians from owning property in Lebanon. The Labor Ministry opened up professions previously closed to Palestinians in June 2005. The number of recent Iraqi refugees numbers in the tens of thousands and is believed to be growing.

ECONOMY

Lebanon has a free-market economy and a strong laissez-faire commercial tradition. The Lebanese economy is service-oriented main growth sectors include banking and tourism. According to the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade, Lebanon posted 5% real growth in 2004, with inflation running at 3%. There are no restrictions on foreign exchange or capital movement, and bank secrecy is strictly enforced. Lebanon has adopted a law to combat money laundering. There are practically no restrictions on foreign investment however, the investment climate suffers from red tape, corruption, arbitrary licensing decisions, high taxes, tariffs, and fees, archaic legislation, and a lack of adequate protection of intellectual property. There are no country-specific U.S. trade sanctions against Lebanon.

Lebanon embarked on a massive reconstruction program in 1992 to rebuild the country's physical and social infrastructure devastated by both the long civil war (1975-90) and the Israeli occupation of the south (1978-2000). In addition, the delicate social balance and the near-dissolution of central government institutions during the civil war handicapped the state as it sought to capture revenues to fund the recovery effort. Monetary stabilization coupled with high interest rate policies aggravated the debt service burden, leading to a substantial rise in budget deficits. Thus, the government accumulated significant debt, which by 2005 had reached $36 billion, or 185% of GDP. Unemployment is estimated at 18% officially, but in the absence of reliable statistics, some estimate it could be as high as 20-25%.

The government also has maintained a firm commitment to the Lebanese pound, which has been pegged to the dollar since September 1999. The government passed an Investment Development Law as well as laws for the privatization of the telecom and the electricity sector, signed the Euro-Med Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU) in March 2003, and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In order to increase revenues, the government introduced a 10% value added tax (VAT) that became applicable in February 2002 and a 5% tax that became applicable in February 2003.

Plagued by mounting indebtedness, Lebanon submitted a comprehensive program on its financing needs at the Paris II donors conference in November 2002 and succeeded in attracting pledges totaling $4.4 billion, including $3.1 billion to support fiscal adjustment and $1.2 billion to support economic development projects. Despite the substantial aid it had received, the government made little progress on its reform program, and by 2006, even before the war, the debt problem had grown worse. After the war, $940 million in relief and early reconstruction aid was pledged to Lebanon August 31, 2006 at a donors conference in Stockholm, and an additional $7.6 billion in assistance for reconstruction and economic stabilization was pledged January 25, 2007 at the International Conference for Support to Lebanon, "Paris III". Unlike the Paris II aid, much of the Paris III aid was to be contingent on Lebanon's meeting agreed benchmarks in implementing its proposed five-year economic and social reform program. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to initiate a Post-Conflict Program and to assign a team to Lebanon to provide technical assistance, to monitor the progress of reforms, and to advise donors on the timing of aid delivery.

The U.S. enjoys a strong exporter position with Lebanon, generally ranking as Lebanon's fifth-largest source of imported goods. More than 160 offices representing U.S. businesses currently operate in Lebanon. Since the lifting of the passport restriction in 1997 (see below), a number of large U.S. companies have opened branch or regional offices, including Microsoft, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, FedEx, UPS, General Electric, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Cisco, Eli Lilly, and Pepsi Cola.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

The foreign policy of Lebanon reflects its geographic location, the composition of its population, and its reliance on commerce and trade. Lebanon's foreign policy has been heavily influenced by neighboring Syria, which has also long influenced Lebanon's internal policies as well. Reflecting lingering feelings in Syria that Lebanon was unjustly separated from Syria by European powers, Syria and Lebanon have never formally agreed on their mutual boundaries, and, rather than having normal diplomatic relations, the two countries are linked by a Higher Council for Bilateral Relations. Syria has no embassy or equivalent office in Beirut, while Lebanon has an "Interest Office" in Damascus. The framework for relations was first codified in May 1991, when Lebanon and Syria signed a treaty of mutual cooperation. This treaty came out of the Ta'if Agreement, which stipulated "Lebanon is linked to Syria by distinctive ties deriving strength from kinship, history, and common interests." The Lebanese-Syria treaty calls for "coordination and cooperation between the two countries" that would serve the "interests of the two countries within the framework of sovereignty and independence of each." Numerous agreements on political, economic, security, and judicial affairs have followed over the years. Syria maintained troops in Lebanon from 1976 until 2005 however, even after the withdrawal of Syria's military troops, it is believed to have maintained intelligence assets in Lebanon. In any case, Syrian influence in Lebanese politics remains strong.

Lebanon, like most Arab states, does not recognize Israel, with which it has been technically at war since Israel's establishment. Lebanon participated in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and despite the 1948 Lebanon-Israel armistice, Lebanon's lack of control over the border region resulted in repeated border hostilities, initiated mainly by Palestinian exile groups from 1968 to 1982 and later by Hezbollah. These attacks led to Israeli counterattacks, including a 1978 invasion, a 1982 invasion and occupation which ended in 2000, and the 2006 war. Lebanon did not participate in the 1967 or 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, nor in the 1991 Gulf War. The success of the latter created new opportunities for Middle East peacemaking. In October 1991, under the sponsorship of the United States and the then-Soviet Union, Middle East peace talks were held in Madrid, Spain, where Israel and a majority of its Arab neighbors conducted direct bilateral negotiations to seek a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 (and 425 on Lebanon) and the concept of "land for peace." Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and representatives of the Palestinians continued negotiating until the Oslo interim peace accords were concluded between Israel and the Palestinians in September 1993 and Jordan and Israel signed an agreement in October 1994. In March 1996, Syria and Israel held another round of Madrid talks the Lebanon track did not convene. Lebanon has repeatedly called for a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem as a prerequisite to peace with Israel.

Lebanon concluded negotiations on an association agreement with the European Union in late 2001, and both sides initialed the accord in January 2002. Lebanon also has bilateral trade agreements with several Arab states and is working toward accession to the World Trade Organization. Aside from Syria, Lebanon enjoys good relations with virtually all of the other Arab countries (despite historic tensions with Libya, the Palestinians, and Iraq), and hosted an Arab League Summit in March 2002 for the first time in more than 35 years. Lebanon also is a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference and maintains a close relationship with Iran, largely centered on Shi'a Muslim links. Lebanon is a member of the Francophone countries and hosted the Francophone Summit in October 2002.

U.S.-LEBANESE RELATIONS

The United States seeks to maintain its traditionally close ties with Lebanon, and to help preserve its independence, sovereignty, national unity, and territorial integrity. The United States, along with the international community, supports full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, including the disarming of all militias and the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces throughout Lebanon. The United States believes that a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

One measure of U.S. concern and involvement has been a program of relief, rehabilitation, and recovery that from 1975 through 2005 totaled more than $400 million in aid to Lebanon. For relief, recovery, rebuilding, and security in the wake of the 2006 war, the U.S. Government substantially stepped up this program, pledging well over $1 billion in additional assistance for the 2006 and 2007 fiscal years. This support reflects not only humanitarian concerns and historical ties but also the importance the United States attaches to sustainable development and the restoration of an independent, sovereign, unified Lebanon. Some of current funding is used to support the activities of U.S. and Lebanese private voluntary organizations engaged in rural and municipal development programs nationwide, improve the economic climate for global trade and investment, and enhance security and resettlement in south Lebanon. The U.S. also supports humanitarian demining and victims' assistance programs.

Over the years, the United States also has assisted the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Lebanese American University (LAU) with budget support and student scholarships. Assistance also has been provided to the Lebanese-American Community School (ACS) and the International College (IC).


Cease-fire line vs. permanent border

The new military frontiers for Israel, as set by the agreements, encompassed about 78% of mandatory Palestine as it stood after the independence of Transjordan (now Jordan) in 1946. The Arab populated areas not controlled by Israel prior to 1967 were the Jordan occupied West Bank and the Egypt occupied Gaza Strip.

The armistice agreements were intended to serve only as interim agreements until replaced by permanent peace treaties. However, no peace treaties were actually signed until decades later.

The armistice agreements were clear (at Arab insistence) that they were not creating permanent borders. The Egyptian-Israeli agreement stated "The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims and positions of either Party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question." [1]

The Jordanian-Israeli agreement stated: ".  no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations" (Art. II.2), "The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto." (Art. VI.9) [3]

As the Armistice Demarcation Lines were technically not borders, the Arabs considered that Israel was restricted in its rights to develop the DMZ and exploitation of the water resources. Further that as a state of war still existed with the Arab nations, the Arab League was not hindered in their right to deny Israel the freedom of navigation through the Arab League waters. Also it was argued that the Palestinians had the right of return and that the Israeli use of abandoned property was therefore not legitimate. [11]

In the Knesset then Foreign Minister and future Prime Minister Moshe Sharett called the armistice lines "provisional boundaries" and the old international borders which the armistice lines, except with Jordan, were based on, "natural boundaries". [12] Israel did not lay claim to territory beyond them and proposed them, with minor modifications except at Gaza, as the basis of permanent political frontiers at the Lausanne Conference, 1949. [13]

After the 1967 Six Day War several Israeli leaders argued against turning the Armistice Demarcation Lines into permanent borders on the grounds of Israeli security:

  • Prime Minister Golda Meir said the pre-1967 borders were so dangerous that it "would be treasonable" for an Israeli leader to accept them (New York Times, December 23, 1969).
  • The Foreign Minister Abba Eban said the pre-1967 borders have "a memory of Auschwitz" (Der Spiegel, November 5, 1969).
  • Prime Minister Menachem Begin described a proposal for a retreat to the pre-1967 borders as "national suicide for Israel."

The internationally recognized border between Egypt and Israel was eventually demarcated as part of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. [ citation needed ] The border between Israel and Jordan (except for Jordan's border with the post-1967 West Bank) was demarcated as part of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. [14] This occurred after Jordan had recognized Palestine, which had not declared its borders at the time. In its application for membership to the United Nations, Palestine declared its territory to consist of the West Bank and Gaza, implying that some of Jordan's previous border with Israel is now with Palestine. [15]


Israel Lebanon Armistice March 23 - History

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During the war for Israel's independence, many Jewish villages were destroyed, synagogues and cemeteries desecrated, and fields and buildings burned. The Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem was besieged, and kept without food or water, and eventually the Jordanians expelled the Jews from the Old City.(1)The gray area on the inset marks the Old City. The Jordanians took over East Jerusalem and a large portion of land on the west bank of the Jordan River, thereby narrowing Israel, seen here in blue, to approximately nine miles at its narrowest point. Egyptian troops overran the Gaza strip in the west as well as the southern outskirts of Jerusalem. Despite tremendous losses, the new Jewish state survived.

In 1949 Israel signed armistice agreements with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Transjordan,(2)which in April 1949 changed its name to Jordan.(3) One of the major consequences of this was Jordan's annexation of Judea and Samaria. This annexation was not recognized by the international community, with the exception of Britain and Pakistan.(4) This territory became a launching ground for constant terrorist attacks against Israel's civilian population. (5)

1. For a vivid description of the battle for Jerusalem, see Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, O Jerusalem! (London Pan Books, 1972).

2. For the text of the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement of Feb. 24, 1949, see Moore, op. cit., pp. 948-957. See also the Israel-Lebanon Armistice Agreement of March 23, 1949, 43 U.N.T.S. 287-298 (1949) Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement of April 3, 1949, 42 U.N.T.S. 303-320 (1949) Israel-Syria Armistice Agreement, July 20, 1949, 42 U.N.T.S. 327-340 (1949).

3. The Middle East and North Africa 7982-83 (London: Europa Publications, 1982), p. 512.

4. Anne Sinai and Allen Pollack (eds.), The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the West Bank (New York, 1977), p. 27.

5. For details, see Sachar, History of Israel, pp. 443-445.

16 Apr 2015 / 27 Nisan 5775 0

Related coverage

A Response to ‘Rolling Stone’: Many Young Jews Like Me Support Israel

Marisa Kabas frames her May 21 “Cultural Commentary” for Rolling Stone by telling readers how torn she is about Israel.

On the face of things, the anticipated maritime border negotiation would appear to be a standard and routine method of settling any maritime border dispute between two neighboring countries, and many such disputes are still open, especially among the states bordering the South China Sea. Such disputes are generally resolved by reference to the relevant customary and conventional international law rules of delimitation of mutual maritime borders, as set out in UNCLOS, as well as in a long series of precedents established over the years and covered in the jurisprudence of international border tribunals and the International Court of Justice.

However, unlike standard and routine border negotiations between neighboring states at peace with each other, and as in most issues involving the Middle East, a prevailing atmosphere of hostility, suspicion, lack of trust, and a long history of armed conflict and terror renders this particular dispute, as simple as it may appear to be, unique.

This is especially the case inasmuch as it involves a process that opens possibilities of peaceful settlement of disputes with potentially wide regional ramifications, and comes on the heels of the Abraham Accords signed in Washington, DC, in which the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain declared their recognition of Israel’s sovereignty and willingness to enter into normal relations with Israel.

Several factors contribute to this unique aspect:

First and foremost, given the sad history and present realities in the area, the most crucial factor in pushing both states towards negotiations is perhaps the potential economic benefits of cooperation in the extraction and marketing of natural gas and other natural resources. Clearly, such substantive regional benefits cannot materialize in an atmosphere of hostility. This is all the more evident where international companies involved in investing in fuel extraction and production have indicated hesitancy to risk financial resources in an area of potential conflict and political and military instability.

By the same token, wider benefits of cooperation among the regional states involved — Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Egypt, and even Syria and Turkey — could accrue from cooperation in furthering regional projects such as gas transportation to Europe and further afield utilization, management and conservation of living resources such as fishing joint counter-pollution efforts and marine environmental monitoring and of course, tourism connecting the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

Given the delicate economic, political, and security interests involved in these anticipated negotiations, and in the hope and assumption that it will indeed be bona fide, it is likely that the parties will seek to compromise on a specific, substantive arrangement that would take into consideration the wider bilateral and regional concerns, assuming that any peaceful arrangement between them will enable ongoing bilateral and regional coordination and cooperation.

Disputed methods of border delineation

An additional but vital factor contributing to the uniqueness of the Lebanon-Israel maritime border issue is a technical but substantive difference between the two states regarding their methods for demarcating their maritime border. Each country seeks to achieve a maximal area of seabed resources, and the concomitant economic benefits therefrom, at the expense of the other. Israel favors plotting the border by means of a simple 90-degree angle adjacent to the land border, while Lebanon prefers to draw the border line as a straight continuation of the land border.

According to a statement, “This U.S. proposal gives Israel 350 kilometers out of the additional 850 kilometers it claims, the rest returns to Lebanon (500 kilometers). If Lebanon agrees, it will have retreated 350 kilometers after having previously agreed to decline at least 200 kilometers from the limits to which it is entitled.”

In the absence of agreement between adjacent states, UNCLOS provides that in situations of overlapping claims in respect of the Continental Shelf or EEZ between states with “adjacent or opposite coasts,” the delimitation is to be “effected by agreement on the basis of international law … in order to achieve an equitable solution.” In the absence of an agreement, delimitation should take place based on the median line or the equidistance line from the baselines.

Similarly, the convention calls for a conflict to be resolved “on the basis of equity and in the light of all the relevant circumstances, taking into account the respective importance of the interests involved to the parties as well as to the international community as a whole.”

In addition to these accepted modes of dispute settlement, UNCLOS, in its provisions regarding the territorial sea, also provides a clear geographical and mathematical formula for an exact and accurate delimitation and delineation of maritime areas, taking into account the respective coastlines of each party.

This formula is based on plotting a “median line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial seas of each of the two States is measured.”

The formula has been adopted in the maritime border disputes between the states surrounding the South China Sea.

Maritime boundary disputes in the South China Sea

In the negotiations on the Sino-Vietnamese Agreement on Maritime Boundary Delimitation in the Gulf of Tonkin, completed in the year 2000, the parties failed at the beginning to reach an agreement due to strained relations between them.

As noted in a research paper by Zou Keyuan of the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore:

The first two stages were fruitless primarily because the relationship between the two countries was poor. Only after the normalization of bilateral relations in 1991 did the negotiations enter into a productive stage. In 1993, the two sides reached a general agreement on the basic principles to be applied to settling the disputes relating to the land border and the delimitation of the Gulf of Tonkin.

“The agreed-upon principles were those of “applying the International Law of the Sea and referring international practices to carry out negotiations on the delimitation of the Tonkin Gulf” and “in line with the principle of equality, taking into consideration all circumstances concerned in the Gulf to reach an equal solution.”

On Dec. 25, 2000, the two sides signed the “Agreement on the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas, Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves in the Beibu Gulf and the Agreement on Fishery Cooperation.”

Additional disputes presently abound in other areas of the South China Sea between China and its neighbors Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines, all entertaining competing claims. In fact, China claims more than 80% of the South China Sea, approximately 1.4 million square miles, based on what it describes as “historical claims.”

However, in a 2016 arbitration award given by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, instituted against China by the Philippines, a panel of five experts in maritime law ruled that there was no legal basis to China’s claim to sovereignty over much of the South China Sea. China has consistently refused to honor this ruling.

Diplomatic attempts to resolve the Lebanon-Israel maritime border dispute

Regrettably, Lebanon’s refusal until now to enter into direct negotiations with Israel has prevented any possibility of resolving the issue by such peaceful means, despite the fact that individual, bilateral maritime border delimitation agreements in the Mediterranean Sea have been signed between Cyprus and Lebanon in 2007 and between Cyprus and Israel dated Dec. 17, 2010, and despite a series of attempts to solve the dispute through indirect talks between Israel and Lebanon in 2011-2012.

The dispute has been compounded by a spate of complaints in diplomatic notes forwarded by Lebanon to the UN secretary-general following the signing of Israel’s agreement with Cyprus in 2010.

In a note dated June 20, 2011, Lebanon’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Adnan Mansour complained that: “The Republic of Cyprus and Israel, the occupying Power, signed an agreement in which they delimited their respective exclusive economic zones.”

Clearly, the use of such offensive terminology to describe Israel’s sovereign territory along its northern border with Lebanon, in effect denying the legitimacy of Israel’s existence and presence as a sovereign state, is indicative of the substantive political difficulty that has plagued attempts to resolve what should be, by any definition, a standard maritime border dispute.

The exchange of diplomatic notes regarding the respective claims of the two sides to utilize the seabed continued between 2011-2018. In its notes to the secretary-general, Israel reiterated “its openness to dialogue and cooperation with the relevant neighboring states regarding the limit of Israel’s Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone, in accordance with the principles of international maritime law.”

Lebanon also voiced a similar commitment, “reiterating its commitment to International Law and in particular to the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding the delimitation of its maritime borders.”

The political relationship between Lebanon and Israel

Clearly, the issue of the relationship between Lebanon and Israel constitutes a major, additional factor in the uniqueness of any bilateral maritime border negotiation between them.

Many commentators, including those within Lebanon’s political leadership, such as President of the Lebanese National Assembly Nabih Berry, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Adnan Mansour, as well as international media generally, have up to the present represented the two countries as being in an ongoing state of armed conflict.

However, the complex history of the relations between the two countries would appear to cast an element of doubt on whether, indeed, a formal state of war, with all that implies, exists and is relevant.

This complex history includes the following stages in the bilateral interaction between the two countries: On May 15, 1948, Lebanon, together with six other Arab League members — Iraq, Syria, Transjordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen — declared the opening of offensive action against the newly established State of Israel, thereby opening Israel’s War of Independence. This is documented by a detailed declaration sent by the secretary-general of the Arab League to the UN secretary-general on May 15, 1948.

However, following the 1948 war, less than a year later, on March 23, 1949, Lebanon and Israel (as well as Egypt, Jordan, and Syria) entered into a bilateral armistice agreement “with a view to promoting the return of permanent peace … as an indispensable step toward the liquidation of armed conflict and the restoration of peace in Palestine.” Lebanon was, in fact, the first country to sign such an agreement with Israel.

This agreement determined that “the Armistice Demarcation Line between the two states should follow the international boundary between Lebanon and Palestine. The reference to the “international boundary” referred to a 1923 line agreed between the British and French governments regarding the position and nature of the boundary between the mandates of Palestine and Iraq, attributed to Great Britain, and the Mandate of Syria and Lebanon, attributed to France. This agreement was known as the “Paulet-Newcombe Agreement.”

It made no reference to any maritime continuation of the boundary.

Subsequently, between 1982-83, following armed confrontations between Israeli forces and PLO terror groups functioning from Lebanese territory against Israel, including an Israeli armed incursion into Lebanon to quell terror activity against Israel, direct bilateral negotiations took place between the two countries in the Lebanese town of Halde and the Israeli city of Herzliya. These negotiations were mediated by the United States.

On May 17, 1983, these negotiations were successfully concluded with an agreement signed by the parties formally ending the state of war between them and granting mutual recognition of each country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The agreement contained provisions for the withdrawal of Israeli forces, establishment of a security zone in southern Lebanon, and security cooperation between the two countries. Regrettably, and due to Syrian pressure, this agreement was never allowed to be ratified by the Lebanese parliament and was formally shelved on March 5, 1984. In the context of the 1991 Madrid Conference peace initiative sponsored by then-President George H.W. Bush and the then-USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, to which Israel and its neighbors were invited, direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, including Lebanon, were held in Washington between 1991-3 in Washington, DC.

According to the invitation to the Madrid Conference: “The co-sponsors will chair the conference which will be held at the ministerial level. Governments to be invited include Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Palestinians will be invited and attend as part of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.”

More than a dozen rounds of bilateral talks were held between Israel and Lebanon in the framework of the Washington talks. During these negotiations, a draft of a peace treaty was exchanged between the parties that included all the components of peace, recognition of sovereignty, good neighborly relations, diplomatic relations, security coordination, and normalization. This was facilitated by the fact that there was no territorial issue between the two parties.

Despite the friendly and good-neighborly ambiance in the negotiations and the considerable substantive progress made towards peace, Syria, regrettably, again prevented any advance towards a separate peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon.

On April 26, 1996, following a further bout of military action in Lebanon by Israel in response to terrorist infiltration and the firing of Katyusha rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel by Hezbollah terrorists, an “Israel-Lebanon Ceasefire Understanding” was reached in consultation with Syria, Lebanon, and Israel, with US mediation. In addition to achieving an end to hostilities, the document stated:

It is recognized that the understanding to bring the current crisis between Lebanon and Israel to an end cannot substitute for a permanent solution. The United States understands the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace in the region.

Toward this end, the United States proposes the resumption of negotiations between Syria and Israel and between Lebanon and Israel at a time to be agreed upon, with the objective of reaching comprehensive peace.

Abraham Accords

A further significant factor rendering the upcoming negotiation with Lebanon unique is the fact that it comes on the heels of the Abraham Accords signed in Washington by Israel, the UAE, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the Trump administration. The signing of these accords, in and of itself, heralds a new era of acceptance, recognition, and developing normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world, which cannot go unnoticed by Lebanon as it enters into a new, and hopefully more successful negotiation process with Israel on their joint maritime border.

By the same token, this factor cannot go unnoticed by the other Arab and Muslim states in the region that also yearn for a normal, peaceful regional environment that would enable all the states to benefit from each other and the resources available in the sea and elsewhere.

In light of these factors in the evolution of relations between Lebanon and Israel, it is undeniable that mutual acknowledgment and recognition have, in fact, taken place between them long after any formal and active instances of armed conflict between the two countries.

It is hoped that other countries presently attempting to resolve bilateral and regional maritime border disputes in other parts of the world will be observing with interest the anticipated talks between Israel and Lebanon. This is especially so in those situations where the parties may not necessarily be experiencing situations of hostility, armed conflict, and terror, but entertain vital economic and strategic interests in their respective maritime border areas.

Alan Baker is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center and the head of the Global Law Forum. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada.


Israel Lebanon Armistice March 23 - History

The Third Reich was defeated on the battlefields of Europe after 12 years in power. It collapsed 988 years short of its 1,000-year target.

But in those 12 years, it inflicted more damage on humanity, and specifically on the Jewish nation, than any other enterprise in history.


How could it be possible that within a generation of the Shoah, Germany would become a responsible member of the international community of nations?
Nazism&rsquos prime driving force was its determination to exterminate Jews and Judaism. The Shoah was not just one incidental by-product of the Second World War: rather, the Second World War was almost an incidental by-product of the Nazis&rsquo determination to exterminate every last Jew in the world.

With an ideology of such complete evil, how was it possible to restore peace to Europe? How was it even thinkable that Germany would not be forever a pariah? How could it be possible that within a generation of the Shoah, Germany would become a responsible member of the international community of nations?

The answer lies in the way that Nazi Germany was defeated.

27 years earlier the First World War had ended. The guns had fallen silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month: at 11:00 on the morning of the 11th of November 1918.

In four-and-a-half years of war, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Turkish Ottoman Empire (the Islamic Caliphate) had made a gallant attempt at creating a new Europe, a new Middle East, indeed a new world.

The Allies fought tenaciously to defend their values, their populations, their territories, and the smaller nations who had been the victims of the Axis powers&rsquo aggression.

And when Britain, France, and the USA together defeated the Axis, they were magnanimous in their victory. They did not force the Axis powers to surrender rather, they agreed to an armistice. That is to say, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey were not technically defeated. It was rather a stale-mate, the victorious Allies not insisting on unequivocal victory.

Though the Armistice was signed on 11th November 1918, bringing a stop to the actual fighting, the state of war only finished over half-a-year later, when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28th June 1919.

The signatories for the Allies were British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, US President Woodrow Wilson, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, and Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando.

Germany was represented by two almost-unknown functionaries, German Foreign Minister Hermann Müller, the other a lawyer, Johannes Bell.

Although the Allies, whether out of generosity or out of war-weariness, had not imposed complete surrender on the German Army, the Treaty of Versailles completely humiliated Germany:

Germany was forced to accept war-guilt, and accordingly was forced to pay reparations to the Allies for war-damages &ndash amounts so high as to cripple Germany economically for the foreseeable future.

Germany was further punished by losing some 65,000 sq. km. (25,000 square miles) of territory (13% of its European territory) to France, Belgium, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Lithuania by losing all its empire (it had held colonies in Africa and the Pacific) by being forcibly demilitarised and by having the Weimar Constitution, intended to democratise the country, imposed upon it by the conquerors.

This naturally caused massive resentment within Germany. Popular German sentiment was that they had not actually lost the war: after all, they had not surrendered, they had instead agreed to an armistice, technically putting them on equal footing with the Allies. Why, then, should they be so harshly punished?

Sir Harold Nicolson, a member of the British delegation, recorded his observations, concluding his account: &ldquoWe kept our seats while the Germans were conducted like prisoners from the dock, their eyes still fixed upon some distant point on the horizon&rdquo.

The French Commander-in-Chief, General Ferdinand Foch, presciently commented the same day: &ldquoThis is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years&rdquo.

(He was right: the Second World War began in September 1939.)

The Allies had made two terrible mistakes upon defeating Germany militarily: They did not force Germany to surrender, and they imposed humiliating conditions upon an ostensibly undefeated opponent.

The wounds of the war could not heal, ironically because they weren&rsquot deep enough. And the predictable result was massive German resentment, which fuelled a revanchist nationalist backlash, which swiftly catapulted Hitler and the Nazi Party to power, leading inevitably to the Second World War and all its attendant horrors.

75 years ago, the Allies &ndash this time Britain, the USA, and the Soviet Union &ndash were determined to avoid the same mistake.

As far back as January 1943, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Roosevelt had convened in Casablanca, Morocco. (Generals Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud of the Free French Forces also attended Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin was invited, but declined.)

At the Casablanca Conference, these Allied leaders had agreed that upon defeating Nazi Germany, they would accept nothing less than unconditional surrender. No armistice, no truce, no bilateral agreements &ndash only complete and unconditional German surrender.

And so, in the final weeks of the war, when Reichsmarschall Herman G&rlmöring (Commander of the Luftwaffe) and Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler attempted to negotiate a peace settlement will the Allies, the Allies rejected them out of hand.

As it happened, they were not authorised to negotiate any settlement: they were directly defying their own Führer in these attempts.

When Hitler committed suicide in Berlin on 30th April 1945, Grosadmiral (Commander of the Navy) Karl Dönitz became Head of State, carrying the title of President of Germany and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. (He did not inherit the title &ldquoFührer&rdquo.)

Dönitz, too, attempted to negotiate a settlement with the Western Allies &ndash and again was rejected out of hand.

Neither Britain not the USA were prepared to accept anything less than unconditional surrender &ndash which Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Alfred Jodl y&rdquosh duly signed.

The conditions which the Allies imposed upon post-war Germany in 1945 and onwards were far harsher than those of 1918.

The Nazi leaders &ndash political and military alike, government functionaries, and others &ndash were brought to trial, with sentences for the guilty ranging from brief imprisonment to hanging.


If the events of 75 years ago teach us anything (and they certainly do!), then it&rsquos that the path to peace lies not through attempts to conciliate genocidal aggressors, but through defeating them unequivocally.
Britain, France, the USA, and the USSR divided Germany into zones of occupation, and maintained military occupation forces in Germany for almost half-a-century.

The denazification courts changed the entire government and administration of Germany, from Chancellor down to local judges, police commanders, and even teachers.

Theoretically, at least: in practice so many German officials, professionals, and leaders were ideological Nazis that it was unavoidable to leave many in positions of authority.

Germany was demilitarised, far more thoroughly than in 1918.

Germany lost 112,000 sq. km. (43,240 square miles) of territory.

Some 11 million Germans &ndash 18% of the total population &ndash were unceremoniously expelled, from Poland, from Czechoslovakia, and from the territories which Germany was forced to cede, and resettled in what remained of the country.

This time around, there was no room for illusions about being undefeated, as there had been back in 1918. Germany surrendered unconditionally, the ideology which had led them into war was thoroughly defeated on the battlegrounds, their leaders thoroughly discredited and disgraced.

And the result was complete, genuine peace.

It took time, it took decades and a new German generation, which had not been infected with Nazism, to arise.

But already as early as the mid- to late-1980&rsquos, just 40 years after the Second World War finished, the official German attitude (in West Germany, at least) was to remember the invading Allied Armies (at least the Western Allies) as liberators rather than conquerors &ndash soldiers who liberated the German population from their own Nazi dictatorship.

This reading of history wasn&rsquot necessarily historically accurate but it did bring peace to Europe.

And this view is becoming ever-more widespread in the reunited Germany: those Halifax, Lancaster, Stirling, B-17 Flying Fortress, and B-29 Superfortress bombers which had dropped their deadly loads over German battlefields, factories, cities, towns, villages, railway-lines, and road-junctions for six-and-a-half long and wearying years are becoming transformed in the German consciousness from enemies to liberators.

Such has been the result of forcing Nazi Germany into unconditional surrender. Largely thanks to Churchill, the Allies avoided in 1945 the terrible error of 1918.

Now what lessons does this carry for Israel?

&ndash Three years after the Second World War ended, as Israel was becoming independent, the seven Arab states which were already independent &ndash Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iraq &ndash launched a war of aggression and attempted genocide against Israel.

They were confident of exterminating the fledgling State and all the Jews therein within a few weeks: with some 150 million Arabs and barely more than half-a-million Jews, the Arabs outnumbered the Jews by 300 to 1.

And of course they had all the advantages of large, well-armed, and long-established armies, trained and armed by some of the world&rsquos greatest powers: Transjordan and Egypt by Britain, Saudi Arabia by the USA, Syria and Iraq by the USSR.

But when G-d decrees that the time to redeem His people has come, huge and powerful armies are irrelevant, and the pan-Arab aggression and attempt at genocide turned instead into Israel&rsquos War of Independence.

After well over half-a-year of fighting, and attempt after gallant attempt to exterminate the Jews, the Arab leaders eventually accepted the inevitable, and agreed to cease-fires.

So Israel subsequently signed four armistice agreements, with Egypt (24th February 1949), with Lebanon (23rd March), with Jordan (3rd April), and with Syria (20th July).

The other three aggressor-states, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Yemen (which share no border with Israel), signed no armistice agreements: they simply withdrew their troops.

The consequence of concluding the War of Independence with armistice agreements was identical to the consequence of concluding the First World War with an armistice: the aggressor-states simply withdrew, humiliated at having been defeated by Jews, and waited for their next opportunity to attack.

That came in June 1967. By this time, British and French colonialism had all but finished in the Middle East, so this time, the Arab and Moslem world built a vast coalition of thirteen Arab and Moslem states: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Kuwait, Tunisia, Sudan, and Pakistan all mobilised in yet another war of aggression and attempted genocide.

They failed again, and what was supposed to be Israel&rsquos extermination instead became the Six Day War.

And again, Israel made the same mistake: instead of forcing the aggressor-states into unconditional surrender and bringing the war-criminals in those states to trial, Israel agreed to yet another series of cease-fire agreements.

And the inevitable result was the Yom Kippur War, when on 6th October 1973, another coalition of Arab and Moslem states &ndash Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan &ndash launched yet another war of aggression and attempted genocide.

They again failed, and Israel yet again made the same terrible error of agreeing to conclude the war with armistice agreements instead of unconditional surrender.

And more recently, Israel has made the identical mistake, time after weary time: after every round of fighting with the Hamas in Gaza and with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel inflicts far more damage on the enemy than they inflict on Israel, Israeli leaders proclaim victory, agree to a cease-fire &ndash and thereby invite the next inevitable conflict.

If the events of 75 years ago teach us anything (and they certainly do!), then it&rsquos that the path to peace lies not through attempts to conciliate genocidal aggressors, but through defeating them unequivocally.

The territories which Germany lost in 1945 certainly infuriated and humiliated the German population.

But those territorial changes swiftly became a fait accompli. No German politician, political party, or individual has ever demanded that Poland &ldquoreturn&rdquo the Ehemalige deutsche Ostgebiete (formerly German eastern territories).

No one disputes that Gdansk, Szczecin, and Wrocłau are Polish cities, or that Kaliningrad is a Russian city, or that Klaipėda is a Lithuanian city. No one &ndash not even the furthest-Right of German politicians and parties &ndash demand that Poland, Russia, and Lithuania &ldquoreturn&rdquo those &ldquooccupied territories&rdquo to Germany, and allow their dispossessed German populations the &ldquoright of return&rdquo.

No one still refers to those cities by their old German names: Gdansk isn&rsquot Danzig, Szczecin isn&rsquot Stettin, Wrocłau isn&rsquot Breslau, Kaliningrad isn&rsquot Königsberg, and Klaipėda isn&rsquot Memel. And they&rsquore not going to be in the foreseeable future.

If Israel would only have applied the same measures after the Six Day War of 1967, insisting on unconditional surrender instead of a cease-fire, if Israel would have done to the Arabs and for the Arabs the same as what the Allies had done to the Germans and for the Germans just 22 years earlier, then by today we might have been living in a truly peaceful Middle East.

If Israel would have immediately annexed all the territories she captured from the aggressor-states, from the Suez Canal in the west to the River Jordan in the east, as well as the entire Golan, then Israel&rsquos borders with Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt might today have been as peaceful and as secure as Germany&rsquos borders with France, Poland, and Russia are today.

Daniel Pinner is a veteran immigrant from England, a teacher by profession and a Torah scholar who has been active in causes promoting Eretz Israel and Torat Israel.


Post-2006 war activity [ edit | edit source ]

Since the 2006 Lebanon War, there have been only isolated incidents.

On 7 February 2007, there was an exchange of gunfire near Avivim between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces, culminating in the firing of two IDF tank shells over the border. There were no injuries on either side. ⏖] The UN Secretary-General stated it was first armed incident since the end of the last war and that the first fire was by the Lebanese army without any provocation since the IDF was operating inside Israeli territory. ⏗]

On 17 June 2007, an unknown militant group fired two rockets from Lebanon into northern Israel, an action which the UN condemned as a serious violation of the ceasefire. Hezbollah denied involvement in the incident, and Israel emphasized that it would restrain itself from responding by force. Saniora pledged that "The state . will spare no effort in uncovering those who stand behind this incident." ⏘]

As of December 2007, Hezbollah had not disarmed, and continued to recruit armed fighters, with a focus on influencing anti-Government protests in Lebanon. ⎘]

On August 3, 2010, IDF forces clashed with the Lebanese army, resulting in the deaths of one Israeli officer, 2 Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the situation, stating that he holds the "Lebanese Government totally responsible for violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701" [ citation needed ] . The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed Israeli soldiers were on the Israeli side of the Blue Line border when Lebanese troops opened fire. ⏙] However, the Syrian, Egyptian, and Lebanese governments hold the IDF accountable for the breach the UN resolution. [ citation needed ]

On August 19, 2010, the Lebanese military reported that 12 aircraft belonging to the IDF entered into Lebanese territory, which they claim is a violation of Resolution 1701. In the three incidents, the IDF planes made circle maneuvers, fired no shots and left Lebanese airspace soon after. ⏚]

On August 1, 2011, Israeli soldiers and Lebanese soldiers clashed in a fire fight. At first it was reported that a Lebanese soldier was killed, but UNIFIL later said no one was killed. UNIFIL findings showed that Israel had not crossed the border, and there was no cause for the clash. ⏛] ⏜] A

On August 7, 2013 four Israeli soldiers have been wounded in a landmine explosion allegedly by Hezbollah, 400m inside Lebanese territory, which violates UN Security Council Resolution 1701. ⏝] ⏞]