The Corner

Those Helpful Europeans

Gerald Steinberg in the WSJ

“In early 2000, the European Union was an enthusiastic supporter of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the security zone in southern Lebanon. Paris was about to take over the EU presidency in July and played a dominant role in the discussions. The French foreign and defense ministers pressed Israel to return its military forces to the international border. In detailed talks that took place at the French ambassador’s residence in Jaffa …the Europeans assured us that once Israel retreated, Hezbollah would lose its raison d’être as a ‘militia’ and transform itself into a political party. France and its partners would send peacekeepers to prevent terror and missile attacks against Israel, help the Lebanese army take control of the border, and disarm Hezbollah.

“In May that year, the Israeli military left Lebanon. The United Nations certified that the withdrawal was complete. But Europe did nothing. Hezbollah’s leaders celebrated a great ‘military victory,’ and Iranian ‘advisers’ provided intelligence, training and thousands more of missiles, some with ranges of 75 kilometers and more that could penetrate deep into Israeli territory and for the first time hit Haifa, Israel’s third biggest city.

“Instead of the promised transformation, Hezbollah took positions right across Israel’s border and prepared for the next round of the war. Fearing international and particularly European condemnation, Israel did nothing to prevent this dangerous buildup. Emboldened by Israeli restraint, Hezbollah staged the first cross-border attack and kidnapping only five months after Israel’s withdrawal, in October 2000.

“Europe’s reaction back then was limited to repeating the usual mantras, calling on Israel to ‘act with restraint’ and to ‘give diplomacy a chance.’”

Clifford D. MayClifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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