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About U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701

Posted: September 7, 2006

The Resolution: Passed unanimously by the Security Council on August 11, 2006 and agreed to by the Israeli Knesset and the Lebanese Parliament, Resolution 1701 was aimed at ending the month-old conflict between Hezbollah and Israel that began on July 12 when two Israeli soldiers were abducted and eight killed by Hezbollah terrorists in a cross-border attack.

The success of the Resolution as a means to achieve peace and stability in the region will depend on implementation.  Had Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for Hezbollah's disarmament, been implemented after its adoption in 2004, the current conflict and new resolution would be wholly unnecessary.

If Resolution 1701 is not seriously implemented, the extremists will be emboldened and more serious war will undoubtedly loom in the future.

The Resolution calls for:


  • The cessation of all Hezbollah attacks and Israeli offensive operations, while providing Israel the continued right of self defense;
  • The implementation of a beefed-up, 15,000-troop U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) force to support an additional 15,000 Lebanese army troops, which will work in concert to secure southern Lebanon.  The force will control the area of southern Lebanon between Israel's Northern border and the Litani River.
  • Israeli troops to withdraw simultaneously with the arrival of the UNIFIL/Lebanese troops;
  • The ban of all armed groups in Lebanon (excluding UNIFIL forces), which bans an armed Hezbollah and any Syrian or Iranian personnel, backed by an embargo of weapons to anyone except the Lebanese army;
  • Forbidding the re-entry of armed Hezbollah elements in southern Lebanon.

How it stands: The Resolution happened because Israel caused significant damage to Hezbollah, because the U.S. supported Israel despite some bumps along the way, because the Lebanese government, irrespective of its strong condemnation of Israel, recognized the damage to the country caused by Hezbollah's aggression, and because the international community was forced to act out of fear of what Israel would do in order to defend itself and its citizens. Indeed, the very complaints about what Israel was doing to Lebanon's infrastructure, though exaggerated, serve Israel's deterrence capacity by convincing both Israel's enemies such as Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, as well as the international community including the E.U., that Israel will do whatever it takes to ensure its security.

Moving forward:  The key now is whether
Israel's significant gains on paper will be translated into a secure and stable south Lebanon

While there is justified historic suspicion about the role of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army, there is a built-in incentive for the Lebanese army to try and reassert authority and control in order to avoid another flare-up in hostilities along the border.  Many Lebanese leaders want to avoid another war and the possibility of even greater destruction.

If security is established in south Lebanon, the balance in the region will have then shifted in the favor of Israel, the moderate Arab states, and the U.S. against Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah; this despite the rhetoric being bandied about of a Hezbollah victory and a gain for the radicals.

One point of concern regarding 1701 is that the resolution provides no explicit mechanism for either the return of
Israel's kidnapped soldiers or the permanent disarming of Hezbollah.  Still, it sets a number of important milestones, including placing blame for the conflict on Hezbollah and authorizing international peacekeepers to use force, if necessary, to prevent Hezbollah's re-entry into the south and its rearming by Iran or Syria.

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About U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559
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Crisis in the Middle East: Frequently Asked Questions

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