A unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon has been the second worst and second best option for Prime Minister Ehud Barak since he came to power in May last year. He didn’t want the status quo – the worst option – and failed to achieve his preferred solution – a negotiated agreement with Syria.
For Israelis and non-Israelis alike, the status of the unilateral withdrawal was far from clear. It started as an electoral promise, intended to reassure a then slowly growing popular movement demanding just such a move. It evolved into a way of putting pressure on Syria and ended up as a full fledged decision. No wonder most Lebanese and the Syrian government took time to respond.