December 7, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Open to Strengthened Lebanon Ceasefire

December 7, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Open to Strengthened Lebanon Ceasefire

Latest Developments

Israel seeks a new diplomatic arrangement with Lebanon that would remove Hezbollah threats from the border area. “One option is to reach a different agreement, which could be similar to [United Nations Security Council Resolution] 1701, mediated by international parties,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on December 6. “They will respect our presence, our existence and our security, and we will respect the other side.”

Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, called for the disarming of all non-state actors in Lebanon and for the Lebanese military and UN peacekeepers to be the only armed presence between the Litani River and Israel’s border. Hezbollah has routinely breached the resolution, and the UN has never enforced it.

At the same time, Gallant added, Israel remains ready to use force if a diplomatic agreement proves impossible. “The second possibility is that we will need to do this by force,” he said. “We don’t want war, but if we get to a situation where we need to establish security here, we will not hesitate — just as we did not hesitate in the south.”

In parallel to the two-month-old Gaza war, Israel has been battling Hezbollah across the Lebanese frontier at an intensity just short of full escalation. Tens of thousands of residents of northern Israel have evacuated as a precaution, many of them fearing that Hezbollah could repeat, in their communities, the October 7 cross-border atrocities by Hamas that triggered the Gaza war.

Gallant asserted that “we will return residents to their homes only when the conditions to do so have been created, and we will be sure that we can provide them with security.” Israel wants it to be “clear that in the area where the borders come into contact, there will be no threats, no gunfire, no anti-tank missiles, no forces, and for sure no forces which could invade the territory of the State of Israel from close by,” Gallant said.

Expert Analysis

“Israel’s openness to a ceasefire in Lebanon is commendable, an opportunity that any world power with sway in Beirut should seize. But caveats must be similarly taken seriously: If the Lebanese and their friends abroad want to spare themselves a looming disaster of Iran and Hezbollah’s making, they must ensure that the south of their country is transformed. It must be free of Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists and their arsenal of missiles and weapons of all kinds, and permanently. If that is not achieved diplomatically, Israel will be forced to achieve that militarily.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Washington spent 17 years pretending the Lebanese Armed Forces and UN peacekeepers would disarm Hezbollah south of the Litani, yet it never happened, and the threat grew and grew. Hezbollah isn’t going to walk itself north of the Litani by diplomatic means alone.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Seventeen years after the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, it is clear that Lebanon won’t or can’t disarm or control Hezbollah, which, at the end of the day, is part of Lebanon’s decision-making consensus. In the absence of any Lebanese will or ability to act, this leaves Israel in a position where it could be justified — legally and strategically — in taking necessary measures to blunt Hezbollah’s ever-growing threat on its northern border.” — David Daoud, FDD Senior Fellow

Israel Responds to Hezbollah Attacks with Airstrikes in Lebanon,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel identifies Hezbollah’s Ibrahim Aqil as head of the deadly Radwan unit,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Why Hezbollah Isn’t Joining Hamas in Total War Against Israel,” by David Daoud


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