Lebanon the intermediary
Palestinians want the UN to demand that Israel cease the colonization of their territory
The Lebanese delegation currently sitting on the Security Council could put the United States in a difficult position over Israel's continued building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Supported by the Arab nations, Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, Saad al-Hariri is considering presenting a resolution written by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah demanding that Israel stop its policy of building colonies in the Occupied Territories.
The aim of the initiative is to jumpstart stalled talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians that were suspended shortly after the US congressional elections in November. It isn't just that the newly installed Republican majority in the lower house is uninterested in finding a solution to the conflict in the Middle East, but that Barack Obama's credibility took a serious blow when he failed to get face-to-face talks going through indirect conversations between both sides.
Hariri hopes to be able to make good use of Obama's support for the United Nations investigation into the assassination of his father, Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, who was killed in a car bomb attack in Beirut almost six years ago. In response to the investigation's conclusions, which point to Hezbollah responsibility, ministers belonging to the Shiite party have left the coalition government in Lebanon, thus bringing about its collapse.
If, as it tends to do when faced with any statement or initiative critical of Israel, Washington vetoes the Security Council move, it will have once again all too clearly shown which side it supports in a conflict in which it is supposed to be exercising the role of honest broker. If it does not veto the move, then a diplomatic crisis with Israel is a certainty.
For the moment, the US State Department has limited itself to suggesting that Hariri refrain from presenting the resolution. But regardless of whether the resolution is presented or not, Israel must bring an end to its occupation of Palestinian land, and continuing to build settlements there - both of which are contrary to international law.
Over the years we have seen that whenever the chance of talks taking place to end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians diminish, violence flares up in its place. And again, rumors of a war along the frontier with Gaza are being heard. And if this does happen, as usual, both sides will blame the other for starting hostilities. But it is also true that the underlying cause of the conflict will not have changed: Israel's refusal to abandon territory that does not belong to it.