Britain’s Middle East Minister has called for international arbitration to solve the Shebba Farms dispute between Israel and Lebanon.
“I think this issue should be subject to international arbitration, even if at the United Nations,” said Minister Kim Howells, considered to be one of the Arab World’s friends in the British government.
Howells finally dismissed the notion – which even the UN has come to accept – that Shebba is Syrian and not Lebanese territory: Shebba is “Lebanese territory that the Syrians had rented … and that when the Israelis occupied it, they thought it was Syrian territory,” he said.
And that is a very important point which goes right to the heart of the raison d’etre of Hizbollah. The UN says Shebba is Syrian land. That means all of Lebanon is free from occupation – the Israelis withdrew from all of Lebanon in 2000 and so Hizbollah don’t have any justification for their ‘resistance’.
Syria and Lebanon insist that Shebba is Lebanese. That means part of Lebanon is still occupied and Hizbollah still has a reason to continue its armed struggle against Israel.