Lebanon-Israel border truce at risk Syria pulls out of border truce group

Syria pulls out of monitoring group as sceptical Palestinians wait for President Clinton to revive Oslo agreement

The collapse of the Middle East "peace process" has claimed another important victim: the ceasefire committee that has monitored truce violations in southern Lebanon since last April's Israeli-Hizbollah war, which cost the lives of at least 160 Lebanese civilians. In an ominous development, the Syrians - following the Arab League's decision to freeze Arab relations with Israel - have let it be known that they do not wish to attend sessions with their Israeli counterparts in the United Nations headquarters at Naqqoura on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The committee - which was created specifically to protect civilians - is made up of representatives of the United States, France, Syria, Israel and Lebanon, and has met at least a dozen times to adjudicate on the responsibility for truce violations over the past 11 months. While choosing its words judiciously, it has several times blamed Israel for the wounding and killing of civilians since April 1996, including the death of a young Lebanese mother.

Yesterday, however, no Syrian-Lebanese request was made to hold a meeting into the weekend Israeli shelling of the village of Beit Leif, and the Lebanese were privately informed that Syria does not wish to sit at the table with Israeli officers to discuss the matter, at least for the present.

In the aftermath of last Spring's bombardment - which culminated in the slaughter by Israeli artillerymen of more than 100 Lebanese civilians who had sought protection in the UN's Fijian battalion headquarters at Qana - all sides praised the setting up of the monitoring committee as a guarantee of safeguarding civilians who live close to the area which the Israeli army occupies in southern Lebanon.

The terms of the truce were not to Israel's satisfaction. It allowed the Hizbollah and the Israelis to continue their war inside Lebanon - provided they did not fire from or at civilian districts between the Mediterranean and the Syrian border. UN troops based in the south of Lebanon - whose observation posts allow clear sight over the terrain - provided the committee with their own record of events and helped the five powers to decide who was to blame for violations.

Although it was an imperfect institution, the monitoring group none the less provided a check on the war in southern Lebanon which has led to two Israeli invasions and two mass Israeli bombardments over the past 19 years.

The danger now is that without the committee, both the Israelis and the Hizbollah will see fit to take their own revenge for alleged truce violations and even repeat the events of last year, when a booby trap bomb which killed a Lebanese boy provoked the Hizbollah into firing rockets into Israel - which in turn prompted the Israeli bombardment and the massacre at Qana.

The Hizbollah and the Israelis have continued their war against each other ever since; only two days ago, a Sagar anti-tank rocket fired by the Hizbollah killed one of Israel's proxy Lebanese militiamen and wounded four others in an attack on an M-113 troop transporter near the Lebanese town of Marjayoun. Israeli artillery responded by firing around the village of Majdel Zoun.

Thus has the steadily worsening crisis in the Middle East and the new Jewish settlement on occupied land made another potential war-front far more dangerous.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
tv
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments