A brief history of the legal relationship between the Republic of Lebanon and the Zionist Entity.
The Lebanese-Israeli conflict has long been discussed since the first Israeli-Arab wars in 1948. This article aims to expose the legal status of this relationship through the several resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council along with any agreement that may have occurred between the two parties and, finally, showing the local Lebanese laws that control this relationship.
Table of Contents
The Lebanese-Israeli conflict has long been an issue that has jeopardized the stability of the MENA region. Throughout the history of the conflict, numerous efforts had been initiated to terminate the hostilities but without any tangible results. In order to understand the conflict at hand, it is necessary to study the numerous resolutions adopted by the Security Council, the local laws and finally the agreements that may have occurred between the two parties.
I. United Nations Security Council Resolutions
A. Security Council Resolutions 425, 426, and 427
Amidst the Lebanese civil war the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an invasion in Southern Lebanon on the 14th of March 1978 under the pretext of retaliation. It has been widely considered that the invasion was aimed to terminate the Palestinian resistance groups’ bases in the region. This action breaks major international principles and rights including the sovereignty of the Republic of Lebanon as well asthe right to territorial integrity. As a result, an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting was set on 19 March 1978 as per the letters submitted by Lebanese Permanent Representative in documents S/12600 and S/12606 and that of the Israeli Permanent Representative in document S/12607. This meeting resultedwith Security Council Resolution 425 which calls, in its first operative clause, to respect “the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon.”
Moreover, this resolution urges Israel to withdraw its military forces from Sothern Lebanon, to accept the request of the Lebanese Government to send an interim force to monitor the withdrawal, to help the Lebanese government regain control over its Southern sector, and, finally, to request the Secretary-General to report the implementation of this resolution within 24 hours. The resolution passed with a vote of 12 countries in favor of this resolution and 2 abstentions.1
Resolutions 246 and 247 were later adopted on 19 March 1978 and 3 May 1978, respectively, further discussing the solution for the problem encountered in resolution 245.
The first of those resolutions adopted by the Security Council2 – with a vote of 12 and abstention of the same countries mentioned in resolution 245 – aimed to get the approval of the report done by the Secretary-General and for the establishment of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). UNIFIL would have an initial period of six months with the possibility of extending this time frame if deemed necessary by the Security Council.
Resolution 247, adopted with the same majority as the previous resolution, approves the Secretary General’s request to increase the interim force from 4000 to 6000 soldiers, recognizes the partial withdrawal of the Israeli troops, and requests to complete the withdrawal.
As mentioned in resolution 426, the initial period of the UNIFIL’s presence on the Lebanese border was six months with the possibility of extending it. This period however was repeatedly extended as UNIFIL troops still reside on Lebanese territory to this day. Moreover, due to several violations, and in order to fulfill the force’s purpose of maintaining a permanent ceasefire among the States, the number of troops increased by 15,000 in 2006. This was done to augment and better support the force already in Lebanon.
B. Resolution 1701
Adopted by the Security Council on 11 August 2006, this resolution aimed to terminate the Israeli invasion of the Lebanese territory that began on 12 July of the same year. Chapter VII of the UN Charter was invoked back then as the resolution clearly determined that “the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security” thus requiring immediate coercive measures to solve this issue. The resolution’s operative clauses proceed with a call to terminate hostilities between the involved parties3 followed by the deployment of UNIFIL and Lebanese troops all over the South region, as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces.4 Moreover, the Security Council emphasized the importance of increasing the control of the Lebanese Government over the region according to the right of sovereignty of the Lebanese Government and the right to territorial integrity (both mentioned in the Taef Accords of 1990). Furthermore, it has been recommended that both Lebanon and Israel work on a permanent cease-fire as a step to achieve peace in the Middle East through the listed actions in operative clause 8 which includes the full respect of the Blue Line, establishing all necessary security measures to prevent the resumption of military actions – such as setting a free-of-arm area between the Blue line and the Litani river excluding UNIFIL and Lebanese Military troops – and the prevention of arms’ sale and supply to Lebanon except as authorized by the Lebanese government.
In addition to the deployment of UNIFIL troops, the Security Council authorized in clause 11 the increase of the UNIFIL troops bound to Lebanon to a maximum of 15,000 troops, to providehumanitarian access to all civilian located in the Lebanese South, to help displaced individuals return to their homes, and toassist the Lebanese Government in the implementation of the resolution.
In addition, extending the original mandate set for the forces, in resolution 425 and 426, until 31 August 2007 with the option of renewing their stay. Nevertheless, this resolution urges the Secretary General to set all the measures required toachieve maximum efficiency from the troops work and requests member states to “consider making appropriate contributions to UNIFIL and to respond positively to requests for assistance from the Force.”5
Since the adoption of resolution 1701 in August 2006, forty-one reports were arranged by the United Nations Secretary General, the latest of which was published on 18 November 2019. Most of these reports include clear statements that hostilities between the two parties have never ceased as Israeli forces have constantly violated both spatial and maritime boundaries.
Recently the Israelis claimed that a part of Block 9, which is within the Republic of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone, lies within their waters. This was done after the Lebanese government opened bidding for oil and gas probing and eventual extraction. This reignited the tension between the sides. It should be noted that no official solution has been adopted yet. In addition, Israeli drones have long been spotted and shot down during their patrols over Lebanese territory, a recurrent and blatant infringement on Lebanese sovereignty.
Concerning Hezbollah’s weapons surrender as stated in the resolution, no action has been taken to target this topic as the party (now deemed as a terrorist organization by major, mostly Western, world powers) remains in control of heavy weaponry. These have been used during the Syrian civil war to aid Bashar Al Asad’s forces and in the strike on an Israeli vehicle performed in August 2019.
II. Lebanese Legislation
Lebanese legislation has taken a firm stance concerning the relationship with Israel as it strictly denies recognizing Israel as a state or as a part of the international community and considering the Zionist entity as an enemy. This relation between the two countries was addressed in different Lebanese laws which are the 1943 Lebanese Criminal Code and the 1955 Lebanese Anti-Israeli Boycott Law.
A. Lebanese Criminal Code
To begin with, the Lebanese Criminal code consecrates one of its chapters to discuss the crime of “treason”6 and the penalty implemented on such acts depending on the severity of the crime. When reading this chapter, it can be deduced that any ties to the enemy or acts involving him are to be penalized with the most severe penalties found in the country’s legislation which are the death penalty followed by hard labor for life. To elaborate further, article 273 of the Lebanese Criminal Code condemns any Lebanese that has fought alongside the enemy’s forces and is to be sentenced to death. Also, Articles 274 and 275 sentence with lifetime hard labor any Lebanese that has provided the enemy with intelligence or had any kind of contact with him. Furthermore, this sentence is replaced by the death penalty if his/her actions lead to any form of results, i.e. the enemy state started its invasion and won due to this intelligence. Nevertheless, any actions performed by a Lebanese citizen jeopardizing or damaging any kind of military equipment or artillery (communication lines, ships, tanks, ammos, etc.) are to be sanctioned with the death penalty in times of war and lifetime hard labor during any other time frame.
B. Lebanese Anti-Israeli Boycott Law
On the 23rd of June 1955, the Parliament of Lebanon passed the Lebanese Anti-Israeli Boycott Law constituting 13 articles aimed at cutting all ties and relations with the Zionist entity which was branded previously as not being a State or part of the international community. Article 1 of the law strictly prohibits all persons, whether physical or moral, to enter any contract with any organization or person holding the Israeli nationality or located on the Israeli territories regardless of the contractual subject. In addition, article 2 forbids any import of goods coming from Israel whether directly or indirectly,i.e. goods imported from another country but produced in Israel or goods with profits going to Israel. Moreover, article 3 targets the monitoring of imports. Each importer, in the cases specified by the council of ministers, must present a certificate that states the country of origin of the goods and that they do not contain any Israeli materials regardless of the quantity available. In addition, article 4 empowers the council of ministers to take all necessary measures to prohibit any export of products to countries reexporting them to Israel.
Article 7 of the law expresses the penalty any person breaching this law will face. Concerning disobeying articles 1 and 2,the decided penalty is temporary hard labor for a period ranging between three to ten years along with a fine and the possibility of denying the right of performing work in reference to article 94 of the Lebanese Criminal Code. On the other hand, those who violate articles 3 and 4 are punished through jail time between three months and three years or paying a fine or both. In contrast to the previous articles, article 8 exposes the possibility of issuing a pardon to any individual towards the above sanctions if they help the authorities arrest any accomplices in the crime on condition that their help results in uncovering this crime. Nevertheless, article 10 provides any person, whom helps the authorities discover products with the above description, a monetary reward equivalent to 20% of the value of the products uncovered.
III. Bilateral Agreements
1949 Lebanese-Israeli Armistice Agreement
Upon the eruption of the Arab-Israeli wars in 1948 and after around one year of fighting, General Armistice Agreements between Israel and several Arab states including Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon were being adopted on behalf of the United Nations and represented by Ralph Bunche.
Concerning Lebanon, the main aim of the 1949 Lebanese-Israeli Armistice Agreement was to establish a clear border line between the parties in conflict. Article V of the agreement designates the border line established as the “Armistice Demarcation Line” (ADL) –which was based on the historical borders set between Lebanon and Palestine back in 1920 and officially applied in 1924 – with the presence of “Defensive Forces” along the line for both sides. Furthermore, in article 6, it was agreed that all prisoners of war should be exchanged under the supervision of the United Nations and the Mixed Armistice Commission formed in Article 7. To elaborate, the Mixed Armistice Commission is composed of seven members, three chosen by each nation with the chairman being “United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization” and whose major role is to maintain the execution of the armistice. The commission also aims to resolve any complaints presented as deemed fit through a unanimous vote of all its members.
Last but not least, this agreement was signed and put into force on the 23rd of March 1949. Article 8 clearly states that the agreement “is not subject to ratification.”
This agreement has created a temporary ceasefire and brought stability to the region. By 1951, the entire ADL was marked except for five kilometers situated in the eastern region due to different interpretations of the British-French agreement dividing the region. However, in 1970, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) had settled in South Lebanon and commandeered their attacks from the Lebanese territory. This witnessed the first violation of the armistice as Israeli forces invaded the region.
To this day the Lebanese-Israeli Armistice Agreement remains one of the few official ties between the two parties.
In conclusion, the current Lebanese-Israeli situation remains stagnant with no near solution to it. Constant violations for the several Security Council resolutions and the Lebanese-Israeli Armistice Agreement (such as Block 9 conflict) diminish the possibility of such a peace. War is therefore always on the horizon.
Short of entering peace negotiations, how could the Lebanese government solve these pressing issues?
- Resolution 425.
- “Arab–Israeli General Armistice Agreements (1949).” Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Encyclopedia.com, 28 Apr. 2020.
- “الجامعة اللبنانية.” :: الجامعة اللبنانية – مركز المعلوماتية القانونية :: التشريعات مقاطعة اسرائيل
- “The Israel-Lebanon Border.” The Israel-Lebanon Border: – A Primer – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- LETTER DATED 15 MARCH 1978 FROM THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF LEBANON TO THE UNITED NATIONS ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
- “The Maritime Border Dispute between Lebanon and Israel Explained.” Middle East Strategic Perspectives, 6 Mar. 2018
- “مواد محاكمة العملاء: أبرز المواد التي يُعاقب عليها القانون اللبناني لجهة التعامل مع العدو.” الخيام | Khiyam.com.
- LETTER DATED 17 MARCH 1978 FROM TKE: PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF LEBANON TO THE UNITED NATIONS ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
- Letter dated 78/03/17 from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
- لجامعة اللبنانية: مركز المعلوماتية القانونية :: التشريعات النافذة :: قانون العقوبات.” الجامعة اللبنانية | مركز المعلوماتية القانونية :: التشريعات النافذة :: قانون العقوبات.