Letter: Lebanon: blighted peace in Beirut; peril for Israel; drought in Galilee; double standards in the West

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The Independent Online
Sir: Contrary to the way in which the world treats it, Lebanon is hardly a sovereign state. One of the qualities of state sovereignty is the control of territory. The Lebanese government does not exercise control over all of the territory within its borders; whether this is through weakness or by agreement is a moot point.

At issue is that the Lebanese government is either unable or unwilling to control Hizbollah. To portray Hizbollah operations solely as resistance to Israel's "occupation" in a narrow strip of southern Lebanon is to pull a veil of untruth across the real situation. Hizbollah operations are directed exclusively against Israel, and indiscriminately. Katyusha rockets are not known for their accuracy.

If the Lebanese government is, as it claims, sovereign, but will not or cannot control attacks on Israel from its territory, then Hizbollah's actions are as Lebanon's, this is war, and Israel is justified in attempting to do what it can in order to protect Israeli citizens in Israeli territory. Failure to do this would ensure that the rockets would be fired from the border itself, putting many more Israelis at risk.

The temporary suffering of Lebanese citizens is to be decried no less than that of Israeli citizens. I have little doubt that Israel's military presence in southern Lebanon (and this is a military presence, there are no civilians and no settlements) could be ended tomorrow, if Lebanon's government were to exercise the sovereign authority that the world seems to think it has.

Of course, if one starts from the viewpoint that Israel should not be there in the first place, then I suppose that anything one government does, or another does not do can be considered "fair and just."

Professor Stanley Waterman

Department of Geography

University of Haifa Israel

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