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thedrifter
07-23-06, 09:04 AM
No Cease-Fire
Remove Hamas's missiles--or destroy them.

BY BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
Sunday, July 23, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

JERUSALEM--Some 44 years ago, when Soviet missiles in neighboring Cuba threatened American cities, John F. Kennedy set one goal and ultimately prevailed in achieving it: Remove the missiles. Today, when Israel's cities are pummeled by Hezbollah missiles launched from neighboring Lebanon, our goal should be the same: Remove the missiles. Or destroy them.

It is not enough to push Hezbollah 30 kilometers north of the border. Hezbollah rockets have a range of up to 200 kilometers, and could easily be fired from Beirut. Nor is it enough to achieve a cease fire. With its missile arsenal intact, Hezbollah could re-emerge triumphant a year or two from now and again menace Israel's population.

The objective of the military campaign currently being waged on Israel's northern border, as well as any diplomatic effort to bring that campaign to an end, must therefore be to disarm Hezbollah, first and foremost from its missile arsenal. A failure to do so would be a great victory for that terror organization and for its sponsors in Tehran and facilitators in Damascus. It would enable Hezbollah to rebuild its lethal capacity for waging war, continue to threaten the people of Israel and hold hostage the people of Lebanon, and sow the seeds for an even greater conflict in the future. In contrast, disarming Hezbollah would help restore Israel's deterrence and security, give hope to a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future for Lebanon, and deal a heavy blow to the forces of international terrorism.

Since Israel's unilateral withdrawal in 2000 to an internationally recognized border, Hezbollah has established in Lebanon a terror state-within-a-state, and, working on behalf of Iran and Syria, it has sought to undermine the emergence of a free and democratic Lebanon. In crossing an international border, murdering and kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing rockets at Israeli cities, Hezbollah has also committed blatant acts of war. Like any nation exercising its right of self-defense, Israel is responding not only to the specific incidents that occurred but is also working to eliminate the threat posed by this clear and present danger.

In direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559--which specifically calls for the disarming of all militias in Lebanon--Hezbollah has used its de facto territorial control over southern Lebanon to amass a deadly arsenal of over 12,000 rockets. Some of these missiles are Iranian-made and bring over one-half of Israel's population within range of the terrorist proxies of a fanatic Iranian regime that denies the Holocaust and is planning a new one with its promise to "wipe Israel off the map."

Imagine what the U.S. would do if, on its northern border, a terror state-within-a-state pledged to its destruction was established from which flurries of missiles were fired at Chicago, its third-largest city. With that in mind, to suggest, as some have, that Israel is not acting with restraint is preposterous. Unlike Hezbollah, which is indiscriminately launching hundreds of missiles at Israeli cities and towns to kill as many civilians as possible, Israel is using only a fraction of its firepower and is in fact acting with great care to minimize harm to civilians. But because Hezbollah not only targets civilians but also uses them as human shields by hiding its missile launchers in population centers, Hezbollah has deliberately placed innocent Lebanese civilians in harm's way.



At stake in the current operation is not only Israel's security, Lebanon's democratic future, and stability in the region, but a central principle in the war on terror. Soon after Sept. 11, President Bush made clear that America would no longer make a distinction between the terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. This policy is essential because international terrorism cannot survive without the support of sovereign states.

In order for the global terror network to be dismantled, its support by sovereign states must end--whether that supports comes in the form of actively perpetrating terror attacks (as in the case of Iran and the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority), providing safe havens for terror groups (as in the case of Syria) or not acting against terror groups within their borders (as is the case in Lebanon). A world in which the international community does not hold states accountable for the terrorism that emanates from within their borders is a world in which the war on terror cannot be won.

That is why any cease-fire or diplomatic effort that does not have as its objective the disarming of Hezbollah will only strengthen the forces of terror. And that is also why the world should fully support Israel in disarming Hezbollah--for Israel's sake, for Lebanon's sake and for the sake of our common future.

Mr. Netanyahu is a former prime minister of Israel and the current opposition leader.

Ellie