Danger at the U.N.

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The New York Sun

If ever there were support for the adage that diplomacy should be used only as a last resort it would be the United Nations resolution in respect of Lebanon, on which America and France have reached preliminary agreement. The idea seems to be to bring a halt to the fighting so that an international force, led by, of all nations, France, can be gotten into place. The enemy, Hezbollah and Iran, are dismissing the resolution out of hand, and the most far-sighted partisans of Israel are wary, seeing it as a boomerang that will some day be the basis for United Nations sanctions against the Jewish state.

The history of Lebanon, the history of the Middle East, both are riddled with these sorts of diplomatic efforts. They have almost always failed not only because they were illogical but because they preceded a resolution of the fighting. But the latest effort is stirring up quiet but urgent warnings by those who fear that for all the unhappiness of the enemy over the draft resolution, in the longer term it will be seen as a trap for Israel. Our Eli Lake quotes a former Israeli ambassador in Turtle Bay, Dore Gold, as particularly concerned over the call for the establishment of a multinational force under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter.

That is a chapter that deals with grave threats to international peace and security. The danger, Mr. Lake reports, is that in years to come, the resolution could lead to sanctions or military strikes against Israel if Jerusalem takes preemptive action against Hezbollah, which, Mr. Lake reports, Israel’s army is unlikely to disarm by the time the armistice begins. Mr. Lake’s sources point out that it was under Chapter Seven that, say, Iraq was required to disarm after the first Gulf War. It strikes us as extraordinarily dangerous for the administration to proceed along these lines if at some point in time the resolution holds the danger that Israel is going to be restricted in the way it deals with an encircling effort that is well under way against it by the various Islamist regimes and their collaborators.

“For its entire diplomatic history, Israel has sought to avoid a chapter 7 resolution dealing with Arab-Israeli disputes,” Mr. Gold told our Mr. Lake. A spokesman for the Israeli foreign minister quoted by Mr. Lake brushes aside Ambassador Gold’s concerns. It may be that privately the Israelis are assuming that if the authority of Chapter Seven is used against Israel, whatever administration is in power in Washington will be prepared to use its veto to project the Jewish state. Here we’d counsel caution. President Bush has been extraordinary during the course of the latest fighting, brush aside all sorts of maneuvering designed to second-guess Israel on the war front.

But this is a time to remember that little more than two years remain in the Bush presidency, and it’s not hard to imagine the accession of an American leader less willing, or able, to resist pressures to be politically or diplomatically correct. Generally the Republicans have been far more reliable on Israel in recent years than the Democrats; the GOP has exhibited a far greater ability to spurn the dictates of political correctness generally. But there is a strain within the GOP — the Baker, Scowcroft line of reasoning — which has to be watched. And the Democrats, with a few exceptions, have become a gathering concern to many Jews, who watch how the party is preparing to expel its tribune in the Senate, Joseph Leiberman, who was prepared to take a hard line on Israel and on the war on Islamist terror even when it is politically inconvenient. Top management of the U.N. is now actively reaching out to Democrats on all sorts of issues. It’s a dangerous time for Israel to be brought under Chapter Seven of the Charter on its most dangerous flank.

The New York Sun

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