Middle East Expert David Makovsky on Prospects for Lasting Mideast Cease-Fire
This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from August 7, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: After lengthy negotiations, the U.S. and France agreed on a proposal for a cease-fire in Lebanon, only to have the Lebanese and Arab League complain it didn't go far enough because it doesn't force Israel to withdraw immediately. Those views will be presented to the Security Council tomorrow. To talk about how to satisfy all sides in the effort to stop the fighting, we're joined by David Makovsky for the Washington institute for Near East Policy where he directs the project on Middle Peace process.
DAVID MAKOVSKY, WASH. INST. FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Good to be with you.
ANGLE: Let me ask you first, the U.S./French proposal would have implemented a cease-fire and left Israeli forces in place until an international forces arrived to take over from them. Lebanon and the Arab League are now saying, no, no, once a cease-fire is declared, Israel has to leave immediately and the Lebanese government is talking about sending, in fact, approved today, the cabinet did — approved sending 15,000 Lebanese troops to the south of Lebanon. That's encouraging in some respects, I suppose, but why hasn't the Lebanese government sent the army down there until now?
MAKOVSKY: That's a very good question. It's been six years since Israel completely got out of Lebanon, the border was demarcated by the U.N., and subsequently, we have the U.N. Security Council 1559, which also called for them to deploy, they didn't do it. They felt that domestic politics of Hezbollah and their coalition meant don't push back against Hezbollah, and for six years, they have not done it.
ANGLE: Well, that obviously does raise problems from them, how would a government, in which have you two Hezbollah ministers, go and perform the difficult task of creating a buffer zone between Hezbollah and Israel and, to some extent, disarm Hezbollah?
MAKOVSKY: It's a very good question. Look, I think the key is understanding philosophical differences of what is this international force going to actually do? Are they going to do what the U.N. says and disarm Hezbollah, at least what the U.N. says on paper? Or are they going to be like a human buffer between "warring combatants," Israel and Hezbollah, and be like wooden Indians and maybe even constrain the Israelis if they have retaliate? Unless there's a philosophical understanding of what exactly the multinational force is going to do, I think Israelis are going to want to stay put, because they feel, after having lost such blood on the ground, they don't want to be in a situation of returning the status quo ante.
ANGLE: But you're going to — it'll be very difficult for Israel to turn down a multinational force as a buffer zone.
MAKOVSKY: I mean look, they don't want to stay, they don't want Lebanese territory, they got out in 2000. Hezbollah was going across a U.N. line, Israel had left Lebanon and they don't want to go back. So they would be the happiest if a multinational force was actually robust and would actually do the things that U.N. calls for them to do. The question is, is that going to happen? As it stands, France has been leading the effort to have two different resolutions, and the actual mission, and the relationship of the force to the Lebanese armed forces being pushed of, and it's that fear that this multinational force and its mission will never really come about that is telling Israelis, well, stay put until you know for sure.
ANGLE: You know, it's interesting because early on in this debate, the U.S. wanted both the cease-fire and the creation of international forces to be part of one resolution or at least back-to-back resolutions, now you've got this sort of uncertain period here and people are saying it could take two to three weeks or longer for an international force to be formed. Why did the French want to wait? And how difficult is it? What are the obstacles to creating this force over a shorter period of time?
MAKOVSKY: Well, this is, you know, this is really the $64,000 question. Is this force really going to materialize or not? In a certain way, Israel was happy that the U.S. and France took their time, because they hoped that events on the ground would change the dynamic. The fear, though, the Israelis are going to have is that France is leveraging its role of leading this multinational force to drive the diplomacy in a way that's not with the United States wants. So today, for example, after Lebanese government said, well, we don't like this U.S.-French resolution, immediately the French foreign minister said tonight, "Well, we got to listen to what the Lebanese government and the Arab League said, and then maybe we might have to amend accordingly." Is that a cosmetic difference?
And that the U.S.-Lebanese — the U.S.-French resolution is impact or is really France unraveling what they agreed to with John Bolton and other U.S. representatives at the U.N.?
ANGLE: Now, one of the key aims of this group would be to disarm Hezbollah and to maintain an arms embargo to essentially keep more rockets from coming in through Syria. How difficult is that, and how important an aspect of the whole effort is that?
MAKOVSKY: It's the core. I mean, to disarm Hezbollah would mean that the Lebanese government has a chance, that for the first time in 31 years of not controlling their own country, the southern part of their country, by the way, which just happens to coincide with all of the violence in that vacuum withstood by militants, now, you know, they really did disarm, the Lebanese government would give what history doesn't often give, which is a second chance. I think it would be good for the people of Lebanon, be good for the people of Israel if it happens, but there's real questions whether they will do it. I mean, if we look at Afghanistan and Iraq and in Lebanon, there's a lot of problems here of trying to find the arms of insurgency or terrorist groups to root them out. And so how effective are they going to want to be in pushing back, and especially as you pointed out earlier, Hezbollah is in the Lebanese government. Aren't they going to want to dilute the authority of this force and practice? So, there are a lot of questions here that need to be sorted out.
ANGLE: David Makovsky thanks very much for joining us.
MAKOVSKY: Pleasure to be with you.
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