ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and South Lebanon

The impact of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis on Lebanon is potentially significant. The Hizbollah and Palestinian groups in Lebanon have already become peripherally involved in the crisis. The Israeli response has been muted so far, and nor do the Lebanese want a return to the conflict with Israel. However, much depends on how Syria chooses to see the crisis.

On May 24, 2000, Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon, ending 22 years of occupation. The withdrawal took place literally overnight and in front of the international media, which portrayed the retreat in hugely embarrassing terms for the Israelis. In short, Israel received no concessions for withdrawing from southern Lebanon. Effectively, the Israeli defence forces simply lost a military conflict, this one against their major opponent in South Lebanon, the Islamic Hizbollah movement.

For the people living in South Lebanon, there was hope that with the new circumstances the conflict in the south would truly be over, and the region would be fully reintegrated into the Lebanese state. In the weeks following the withdrawal, steps were indeed taken in this direction. However, the recent eruption of violence in the Occupied Territories, and in Israel proper, between Palestinians and the Israeli armed forces has once again increased tensions in South Lebanon. Hizbollah’s recent seizure of a number of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian attempts to infiltrate northern Israel across the Lebanese border have exacerbated the regional crisis, raising the unwelcome prospect that violence and conflict could return to southern Lebanon. Consequently, instead of experiencing a period of peaceful reintegration, the people of South Lebanon are confronted by the fear that they will once again be drawn into the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. In short, although the majority of people living in South Lebanon want desperately to avoid any further participation in the regional conflict, a number of regional actors including Hizbollah, Lebanese-based Palestinian groups, and Syria, may have contrary agendas.

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