Middle East - Lebanon: Without glory

Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the area it occupied in southern Lebanon changes the political balance in the whole region. There are pressing questions about the role of the UN and whether, in future, diplomacy rather than conflict will settle differences between Israel and her Arab neighbours.

The World Today
6 minute READ

Dr Ghassan Salamé

Founding Dean, Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA)

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.

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