A number of world leaders have called for Israel to engage in restraint and a proportionate response to recent terrorist attacks.
What would such a proportionate response look like? It should be based on two major principles. First the Rabin principle that Israel should negotiate as if there was no terrorism and deal with terrorism as if there were no negotiations going on; that is terrorist attacks should not be allowed to derail negotiations. The second principle, flowing from that, is that Israel should make a scrupulous distinction between terrorists and the governments of the countries that harbor them. In the long run, negotiations will have to take place between governments so demonizing those governments will only make negotiations more difficult.
From these principles, we can derive a three step process of dealing with terrorist attacks like those from Gaza three weeks ago and those from Lebanon this week.
I will apply these to the specific example of the Hezbollah attacks. First Israel should go to the Lebanese Government and demand that it fulfill its responsibilities under UN Resolution Number 1559 to disarm the Hezbollah militias and have the regular Lebanese army take control over the Lebanon-Israel border. Israel should have given one week for Lebanon to do this.
In the likely failure of this first step, Israel should go to the Security Council and the Arab League and request that both bodies authorize the dispatch of a Peace Keeping Force to Lebanon to control the border betwee4n Israel and Lebanon.and disarm the Hezbollah. Israel should have given a three day timetable for the passage of one or other of these resolutions and some evidence that deployment was commencing.
Only if these two steps failed, would Israel have the right to take matters into its own hands and try to deal with Hezbollah unilaterally.
The problem is that such a long drawn out process would require almost unbearable restraint from Israel. Restraint in international affairs is a commodity is short supply these days.
The adoption of similar steps in future attacks of this kind would reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic outcome occurring.