The Western-backed Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora on Monday confirmed what its international allies refuse to acknowledge: that it supports Hizballah and is party to the group's violent aggression against Israel.
A policy statement drafted and approved by a council of Lebanese government ministers guarantees "the right of Lebanon, its people, army and resistance to liberate or recover [occupied lands]... by all legitimate and available means."
The term "resistance" is understood to refer exclusively to Hizballah.
The policy statement, which will go before the Lebanese parliament later this month, represents a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought an end to the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Resolution 1701 obligates Lebanon to prevent weapons shipments to Hizballah and to work toward the group's disarmament.
But Timur Goksel, a former spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said that the new policy statement had "put an end to any dreams of disarming Hizballah. It secures Hizballah's armed existence."
Furthermore, noted Goksel, the Western-backed Lebanese government had "put its signature to a clause that allows Hizballah to take actions in the fields listed without seeking government approval."
The document was seen throughout the region as yet another victory for Hizballah, which earlier this summer used a brief spate of violence to win unprecedented political concessions, including veto power over decisions made by the Siniora government.
Israel responded to the policy statement by stating that the Lebanese government had now cemented its direct responsibility for any and all future acts of aggression by Hizballah.
Israel also urged the international community to do what Lebanon won't by curbing illegal arms shipments to Hizballah.
Israeli government officials cited by Ha'aretz said that with the international community unwilling to put any real pressure on what is erroneously viewed as the only true Arab democracy, Jerusalem will focus on the other nations most responsible for Hizballah's military might - Russia and Syria.
Most of Hizballah's advanced weaponry is Russian-made, and nearly all the arms reach Hizballah via Syria.
Israeli military officials estimate that in terms of manpower and medium- and long-range missiles, Hizballah is about three times stronger than it was prior to the last war. The total failure to prevent Hizballah from rearming and gaining military and political strength has been held up as yet another example of the ineffectiveness of the UN.
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