Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lebanes Prime Minister Fouad Siniora rejected calls for the resignation of his government. In a move to outbid Hizbullah and Iran, he announced a goverment program that will give $33,000 apiece to families whose home Israel destroyed. (The offer is 2.75 times the $12,ooo Hizbullah is handing out.) Up to 50,000 homes might be included. In solidarity with the moderate Arab states that will help the reconstruction, he said Lebanon would be the last, not the next, Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel. If Israel wants peace, it should consider the terms in the 2002 Saudi peace initiative.

Michael Young, an editor of Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper, writes that Siniora needs to move fast on his promises to placate those many Lebanese who would like to toss out the corrupt political class as part of the reconstruction. He explains that Hizbullah supports resignation not so much to enhance its own political power but because resignation would produce a political deadlock. That would delay demands on Hizbullah to disarm as part of its political integration into Lebanon.

Veteran Middle East commentator Rami Khouri, also in the Daily Star, contends that Hizbullah has little choice now, but to devote its enegies entirely to the polital realm. It must therefore clarify its ties to Syria and Iran, shelve its pan--Islamist pretensions and get down to the seriousness of governance. Otherwise, it can find itself like its pan-Islamist double Hamas, which has brought the Palestinian cause to an apparent deadend.


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