French Boycott UN Meeting on International Force
In a comment by 'blackspeare' on Hizballah Is On The Ropes, the reader noted that the UN is working to step in before Israel can complete the job.
Not so fast Mr. Schippert….
On Wednesday the UN Security Council will vote to approve a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that will mandate a cease-fire and the establishment and deployment of a multinational force to Lebanon. The tasks of the proposed force will be to man a buffer zone in southern Lebanon; enable the deployment of the Lebanese army along the border with Israel; and control Lebanon’s international border with Syria.
It was an excellent observation. However...
Today, the very author of the draft resolution in question -- France -- has backed out of the UN meeting 'blackspeare' refers readers to.
Dealing a blow to a U.S.-backed strategy for Lebanon, France has refused to participate in a meeting of nations that could send troops to help monitor a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, even though it may join -- and possibly even lead -- such a force.
The French refusal to take part in the meeting, set to take place at the U.N. on Thursday, reflects a wide divergence in views between Washington and Paris about how to impose a lasting peace after three weeks of war between Israel and Hezbollah.
France doesn't even want to talk about sending peacekeepers until fighting halts and the U.N. Security Council agrees to a wider framework for lasting peace.
First, characterizing this development as a "blow to a U.S.-backed strategy" is not entirely accurate. As President Bush and his administration has made clear, Israel should be allowed to ensure Hizballah is no longer a threat. Surely the unspoken thinking is, more to the point, that Israel should be allowed to break Hizballah.
France's boycott of the meeting underscores (on a rhetorical level) a US/Israeli desire to see a ceasefire only after the IDF has at least reduced Hizballah to a non-threat to Israeli cities.
However, boycotting the meeting in effect is equal to abstaining from any vote that may still proceed rather than vetoing it, which leaves the UN plan on the table, at least officially.
Yet, with French troops expected to serve as the backbone of any international force that would be constituted for insertion into southern Lebanon apparently no longer on the table in the current timeframe, any eventual passage would be hollow, even by UN standards.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said of the UN resolution process, "I think we are making good progress."
The French boycott should be viewed as 'good progress,' tipping the hands of the ticking clock in favor of Israel and against the health and well-being of Hizballah.