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Lebanon's Abandoned Role By: Elias Bejjani
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, October 18, 2007


Worldwide news agencies published on October 16, 2007, the following Report: "Israel and Hezbollah carried out a prisoner swap on Monday. The Jewish state handed over the bodies of two militants and a prisoner in exchange for the remains of an Israeli man. The exchange of bodies and a prisoner swap took place at the Naqura crossing between Israel and Lebanon." The two Hezbollah fighters were killed during the 34-day war in Lebanon last summer between the Shiite militant group and Israel. The prisoner to be released was believed to be a militant seized during the war. The dead Israeli was an Ethiopian immigrant who drowned in Israel in 2005 and whose body was swept north to the Lebanese coast, where it was recovered by Hezbollah, the source said.

There had been hopes that the prisoner swap would include two Israeli servicemen, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture in July 2006 triggered last year's war. An army report released last December said that the two soldiers were wounded, one seriously and another moderately, in the cross-border attack that led to their seizure. Israel is also seeking the return of the bodies of five soldiers which have never been recovered since their deaths during Israel's 1982 onslaught in Lebanon.

The Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Sunday that the two Israeli soldiers held by Hezbollah had been handed over to Iran and could be freed in a German-brokered swap. It quoted a source it identified as a high-ranking official in the office of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying the pair had been transferred to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards. The source claimed that the soldiers could be part of an exchange involving Germany, which decided last week to free an Iranian agent jailed for life for the 1992 murder of four Kurdish dissidents.

On January 29, 2004, Israel freed nearly 450 prisoners, most of them Palestinians and Arabs, in exchange for an Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tannenbaum, and the bodies of three soldiers. The exchange was brokered by German intelligence chief Ernst Uhrlau.

As part of the swap, Israel agreed to free Lebanese prisoner Samir Kantar at a later date in return for information on the fate of Arad. The 41-year-old Kantar was handed down jail sentences totaling 542 years by an Israeli court in 1980 for infiltrating a northern seaside resort and killing a scientist and his four-year-old daughter and an Israeli policeman. Hezbollah is also seeking the release of four Iranian diplomats believed to have been handed over to Israel by a Lebanese Christian militia after their capture in 1982. Hezbollah will provide information on Israeli airman Ron Arad, missing for more than 20 years, as part of a swap deal between the Jewish state and the militant party, an Israeli official said on Monday." As part of the exchange deal, Hezbollah will provide Israel with information on Ron Arad," an official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

As a Lebanese Canadian non-profit organization whose prime objectives are advocacy for human rights, freedoms and democracy, we welcome all genuine human efforts and endeavors that ultimately lead to the release of prisoners or hostages, and to the whereabouts and fate of any those abducted, as well as the retrieval and delivery of soldiers or civilians remains to their families or countries, but at the same time we believe it is extremely essential that those carrying such activities must abide by a set of judicial, human rights, ethical and security standards, so as not to reward terrorism and encourage terrorists.

The following are our observations and suggestions from the Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC) on the exchange of prisoners and bodies between Israel and Hezbollah through Germany's mediation:

1. It was shocking, sad and extremely disappointing to learn that the Lebanese legitimate authorities on all levels were entirely absent from the exchange process, and more regrettable was the fact that certain free world countries, well known Human Rights countries and peace advocacy bodies have willingly participated in the process without even making the Lebanese government aware of their activities, while dealing with a terrorist organization and giving its atrocities an umbrella of recognition and legitimacy.

Meanwhile what was actually bizarre and confusing lies in the Laissez Faire condemned position that the Lebanese Government adopted. It did not only be absent and abandon its responsibilities, but even announced its indifference and irresponsibility when its Interior Minister announced publicly: "Our brothers in Hezbollah notified us 24 hours before the exchange process took place".

2. We hold fully responsible for this kind of unacceptable conduct with a terrorist group, all free world countries and humanitarian - international Organizations who played any role, direct or indirect in the exchange process without the consent of the legitimate Lebanese authorities in advance. All those involved overtly or covertly have in reality sided and supported the Hezbollah terrorist organization in particular, and the global fundamentalism and terrorism in general. They haves strongly contributed to strengthen the "illegal mini Hezbollah" state that Iran and Syria had erected in Lebanon, on the account of the legitimate Central Lebanese government. They have openly and bluntly infringed the Charter of the United Nations and negated all strategies and efforts tailored to combat global terrorism and fundamentalism. They have explicitly granted their recognition to a terrorist organization (Hezbollah) that is a militant spearhead in Lebanon for the axis of evil countries (Syria and Iran), who fully sponsor, manipulate , fund and control its decision making process on all levels and domains.

3. It is worth mentioning that the global war against terrorism and fundamentalism cannot achieve any positive results if the free world countries and all Humanitarian, judicial and international organizations are not united and their activities well defined and abided by. All those involved or concerned in this fight must be committed by all related international obligations, disciplines, laws and ethics, and most importantly not to succumb to terrorists' threats under any circumstance and not offer its leaders or sponsors any form of legitimacy.

4. We call on the United Nations and all countries that have contributed by any means and on any level in the Hezbollah-Israeli prisoners-bodies exchange process to refrain in future from any such activities and to develop a set of well defined policies and strategies that governs all contacts with terrorist groups.

We call on all of them to limit their future contacts in any similar exchange process with the Lebanese legitimate state.

5. All concerned countries, organizations and individuals in Lebanon, the Middle East, The Arab states and the free world MUST be fully aware that the ongoing conflict in Lebanon is between the legitimate State of Lebanon and the "Mini Hezbollah State" that Iran and Syria had erected inside Lebanon. The conflict does not revolve only on the fate and future of democracy, freedoms and rights in Lebanon, but also on the fate of the Middle East peace process, and all efforts to combat international terrorism. . Accordingly, any endorsement or support to the "Hezbollah Mini fundamental state", or even any kind of cajoling or appeasement to its leaders or to the axis of evil two countries (Syria and Iran) is in reality an infringement to all peace efforts and a crime against humanity.


Elias Bejjani is a human rights activist, journalist and political commentator.


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