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A historic chance to lead the way

Author: Judith Kipper
July 23, 2006
Newsday

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It’s another summer of death and destruction in the Middle East. The latest conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza is history repeating itself.

But, like other firefights over many decades, it will not resolve the problems behind the violence. There will eventually be a cease-fire, some kind of deal to exchange prisoners and a promise of calm, but for how long?

Israel’s massive retaliation against Hezbollah will destroy infrastructure and weapons, but it will not be the end of Hezbollah—which is an ideology expressed in a political party, a social welfare organization and a highly disciplined and well-trained militia. When the dust settles, without a solution to the core issues, Hezbollah can and will likely regroup with whatever infrastructure and weapons it can muster.

In Gaza, Israel can destroy the Palestinian Authority, but Hamas will still survive, even with many of its leaders captured or killed. Hamas, too, is a political party and social welfare organization with a military wing.

Since no amount of pain inflicted on Lebanon and Gaza by Israel is likely to result in the release of Israeli soldiers in the hands of Hezbollah and Hamas, an American-led diplomatic campaign becomes urgent. The G-8 as well as the Arab states have squarely blamed Hezbollah for this conflict. This sends a signal that the international community is finally fed up with Syria, the very last and only radical Arab state, and Iran, the dominant power in the region, using Hezbollah and Hamas as surrogates to disrupt, terrorize and thus set the political agenda in the region. Both Syria and Iran must be held accountable.

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