By Sergio Rodriguez Gelfenstein *
The planet has been experiencing a complex and convulsive international situation especially in the recent years since the start of the pandemic in 2020 and the NATO war against Russia that began in October 2014. But that this year has had a significant escalation, it has powerfully influenced almost every political event on the planet.
Much to its regret, the Zionist State has not been able to distance itself from such a dynamic that is beginning to directly influence internal events and the decision-making capacity of the government. Thus, the war in Ukraine and the sanctions of the United States and its appendices against Russia have meant a blow to a world gas market subject to strong fluctuations, making it impossible to maintain stability for consumers.
For this reason, in the face of the border dispute with Lebanon, the occupation entity that usurps the Palestinian territory has been forced to consent to the conditions that Hezbollah has established, in order to reach an agreement. Europe has demanded that the United States and Israel “lower their guard” to accept most of the points of view of the Lebanese resistance organization that, taking advantage of the situation and the gas needs of the Old Continent, forced a deal that not only resolves the issue related to the exploitation and production of fuel but also recognizes the sovereign rights of Lebanon over territories that belong to it and that were in question.
On the other hand, while the agreement has generated national unity around Hezbollah in Lebanon, in Israel it has aroused all kinds of contradictory views and conflicting tendencies as an expression of an internal weakness. This is growing over time and manifests itself in a deep social crisis, desertion and flight of young people to avoid military service and the breakdown of the unity so much cliamed in the Zionist State as an instrument of cohesion to justify the repression against the Palestinian people as well as to fulfill its role as gendarme of the politics of the United States United in the region.
All kinds of public statements account for this situation. When the terms of the agreement were not yet known, the former head of the Israeli army’s Military Intelligence Division, Amos Yadlin, argued that although “The criteria for the agreement have not been published, [there is] an assumption […] that [the Hezbollah General Secretary Hasan] Nasrallah got everything he wanted, so he feels satisfied…” and added: “When I listened to Nasrallah’s speech, he sounded like someone who knows about the deal and presents it to the Lebanese public as a success for them. There are very complicated points that we still don’t know”. Yadlin assured that the agreement was important for both parties. According to him, for Israel it meant achieving a much-needed “calm”.
A similar assessment was made by the Israeli channel KAN. It considered that “Lebanon, a country that suffers from a conflict and is politically divided, seems more united than Israel in respect to everything related to the issue of the dispute over maritime borders.” Likewise, it evaluated that the result obtained meant asuccess for Nasrallah in “the battle of conscience in the negotiations to demarcate the maritime borders”.
In this context, the former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched it against the current Prime Minister Yair Lapid, assuring that he had surrendered to Nasrallah’s threats. His argument: Hezbollah will receive “sovereign territory of Israel and a gas field valued at billions of dollars, without any parliamentary debate or referendum.” Lapid responded by saying that despite not having reached the desired agreement, this “was no reason to join Nasrallah’s propaganda campaign.”
Other hints point in the same direction. Israeli political analyst Rafif Droker noted that Israel would have delayed the maritime agreement with Lebanon for 200 years had it not been for Hezbollah’s military might. For his part, the expert on Arab affairs, Zvi Yehezkeli said that “Israel backed down due to Nasrallah’s threats” and added that the Lebanese people thank him for protecting their rights. Coinciding with the general appreciation, this specialist believes that the Hezbollah leader used Israel’s domestic political problems and the international need for gas, assuring that Tel Aviv is in such a situation that “any war with Hezbollah would be destructive for the Israelis.”
For her part, Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shakeddeclared that the threats were the catalyst to reach the demarcation pact of the maritime border. According to her, it was very embarrassingthatNasrallah will threaten Israel to fire on Israeli platforms in the Karish gas field located in the disputed area, if Israel was to begin extracting the hydrocarbon before the signing of the agreement. It doesn’t seem serious coming from an official of a state that has invaded Lebanon twice and has occupied Palestine and part of Syria in the Golan. Shaked said such threats to the deal were “a catalyst for signing.”
She was referring to the warnings of Hezbollah. The organization had announced that it would not allow the exploitation of gas if the views of the Lebanese government were not considered. On July 3, three Hezbollah-sent drones flew over Israeli platforms at the Karish gas field, sending a powerful message warning to Israel against any breaches. A few days later, on July 13, Hezbollah’s Secretary General let the United States and Israel know that if Lebanon was prevented from extracting its maritime resources, neither could Israel. Later, on July 31, Hezbollah released a video showing the Israeli platforms, reiterating its warnings to Israel against its attempts to unilaterally exploit oil and gas fields.
Mawaf Fardy, a political analyst quoted by the Lebanese Al-Manar TV channel, said that Israel was forced to make concessions after Hezbollah’s warnings “confirming that ‘Israel’ understands no language other than that of force.”
In a broader view of the situation, already on September 8, Major General Uri Gordin, new head of the northern command of the Israeli army, warned that Hezbollah could fire up to 4,000 missiles against Israel in the first days of a potential warlike conflict that could be unleashed. According to the senior military chief, this means about 10 times more than those used in the 2006 war and he assured that the Lebanese organization could increase the figure at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000 daily .
Trying to clarify the information, Gordin affirmed that the number of Hezbollah’s high-precision missiles is relatively small, but that they are enough for strategic civil and military installations, as well as high-ranking leaders of the country, to be among the targets to attack. Adding concern to his analysis, he opined that Israel is not prepared to intercept such a large number of missiles for which the number of casualties could be very high. And he pointed out that the cities of Haifa and Tiberias would be among Hezbollah’s targets.
Delving into the generated internal conflict, the former energy minister and current member of parliament, Yuval Steinitz claimed that “Israel ceded an area of water 17 times the size of Tel Aviv.” Likewise, in an interview with the far-right newspaper Israel Hayomel, close to Netanyahu, the former US ambassador designated by Donald Trump to Israel, David Friedman harshly criticized the pact, stating that Hezbollah was in a good position, because it was the winner: “… Without being a direct part of the negotiations, it was their position that brought Lebanon the additional 40%… This increase, compared to what there was in the past, is the product of their action.”
As can be seen, the situation created has shocked Israeli society. In this sense Roi Sharon, a military affairs analyst for the KAN channel, considered that neither Israeli or Western military chiefs nor intelligence analysts “can get into Nasrallah’s head and analyze what he is planning.” Going even further, former minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of parliament for the far-right Likud party, said he “believes more in Nasrallah than in Israeli spokesmen.”
This situation occurs at the same time that all the Palestinian political organizations gathered in Algiers signed a 9-point commitment to move towards national unity and put an end to the division that has kept Al Fatah and Hamas at odds for fifteen years. Among the points, the call for elections within a year from the signing of the document and the recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people stand out. This call is a call for parties and movements such as Hamas, which governs Gaza, and the Islamic Jihad, among others that are not members today, to join the organization.
In this way, the widest spectrum of Palestinian political forces ever reached established the “firm conviction” that maintaining the current situation “favors the ‘status quo’ and fuels the failure of the peace process in the Middle East”, in addition to benefiting the Israeli occupation.
This weakening of Israel, which is manifested both in Palestinian unity and in the border agreement, is considered the third victory of Hezbollah against the Zionist state after the victory in the wars of 2000 and 2006. It is an expression of the successes of the struggle of the endurance. In 2000, the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon was achieved, in 2006, the goal was to recover the imprisoned fighters in the jails of Zionism, which was also achieved. Now it was about the recognition of the Lebanese maritime limits and the acceptance of its right to exploit the riches that underlie that territory, which should undoubtedly be seen as a new triumph.
Although the agreement has not yet been signed, the acceptance of the parties that will lead to its realization will take place at the United Nations, after Lebanon’s refusal to sign an agreement bilaterally with a State that it does not recognize as legitimate.
This diplomatic battle will go down in history as an undoubted victory of the Lebanese people and of all the forces of the anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist resistance.
* Sergio Rodríguez Gelfenstein is a Venezuelan international relations expert, who was previously Director of the International Relations of the Presidency of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, his country’s ambassador to Nicaragua and an advisor for international politics for TELESUR. Gelfenstein has written numerous books, among them “China in the XXI Century – the awakening of a giant” which has been published in several Latin American countries. You can follow him on Twitter: @sergioro0701