Today’s Jerusalem Post reports skepticism among Lebanese leaders on Israel’s calls for peace talks. According to the report,
Not only are many Lebanese officials skeptical that the embattled prime minister’s overtures are sincere, they also say they see little reason to engage in bilateral talks with Israel. The outstanding issues of Shaba Farms and Lebanese prisoners, they argue, can and should be resolved through an existing United Nations resolution rather than in the framework of peace talks.
The Lebanese are right. The issue of the Sheeba Farms should be solved based on existing UN channels and resolutions. As UN Security Council Resolution 1310, adopted on 27 July 2000, recites
as of 16 June 2000 Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000(S/2000/460).
That means there is nothing to negotiate on the matter–it is not for Lebanon to stake a claim on the Sheeba Farms and it is not for Israel to return the Sheeba Farms to Lebanon, given that according to the UN Israel has complied with Resolution 425 in full. It stands to no reason that Olmert should concede on this point. The Sheeba Farms issue has been settled for eight years, and reopening it means giving in on a pretext that Hezbollah has exploited far too long to justify its blatant violations of UN resolutions, Lebanese law, and the Taif agreements. So why is Olmert offering what Israel should keep?