Why end it when Hizbullah announces that they will not disarm and in fact reserve the right to re-arm?
Why end it when Lebanese politicians and officials express solidarity with Hizbullah’s aims with regard to Shebaa Farms and freeing of Lebanese prisoners by Israel including murderers?
Why end it when it is now clear that despite Annan’s unsurprising condemnations of Israel for supposedly violating 1701 (they are not since their operations focus on clearing territory of bunkers and arms. Paragraph 1 of 1701 allows defensive actions by Israel and Hizbullah’s promise to maintain and re-build their arsenal constitutes future risk.), in fact Hizbullah and Lebanon intend never to implement certain key provisions.
Why, and this is most important, end the blockade before the Israeli kidnapped soldiers are released? Trading for the soldiers is a mistake, but even if it is done, Israel has not ruled out the release of Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese who murdered an Israeli father in front of his 4 year old daughter and then crushed her skull with a rifle butt to murder her as well. He is number one on Hizbullah’s list of longed-for prisoners to be released but they cut a deal with Israel in the last round of exchanges (the Tannenbaum deal) to provide information about missing airman, Ron Arad, in exhange for Kuntar. Instead of providing that, they reneged and kidnapped Regev and Goldwasser in the attacks that caused this recent war.
Why end the blockade before these Israeli hostages are released? The bargaining card the Arabs seek is release of prisoners but Israel holds the more valuable card of the blockade. Why give it up for a resolution that has no teeth and which the Lebanese are already promising unquivocally to violate?
Why shouldn’t Israel state unequivocally that only after the soldiers are freed will they lift the blockade? At that point it will become the responsibility of Hizbullah, the Lebanese government and yes, the UN, if the blockade isn’t lifted. Will the average Lebanese agree to have the blockade continue so that Hizbullah can thrust out its chest and hold two soldiers in the hopes of releasing some murderers?
Furthermore, as of yesterday the Israeli government has not stated that they will refuse to deal for Kuntar. This is a tragic mistake because it will show that Hizbullah’s violation of the 2004 Tannenbaum deal with this recent kidnapping and war represents a correct strategy for dealing with Israel in the future. This means that no future deal can be trusted, that Ron Arad will truly disappear off the radar, and that any deterrence that Israel has built in this war will become irrelevant since in the end they gave Hizbullah what it wanted.
Forget the dealings for prisoners, or at least stick to low-level ones while using the blockade as leverage. Keep it going for as long as it takes for Hizbullah to give in, even if Kofi Annan is pissed off. After all, he’s not in the business of protecting Israel’s interests, citizens or the justice it deserves.