Resolution 425 calls for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israeli armies from South Lebanon. Although this resolution has never been put into practice due to continued Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, it remains the most important document and weapon in the Lebanese hands against Israeli aggression, simply because it was a resolution formulated by the Security Council as a result of consensus of all major powers including the US and Great Britain, both which are considered to be major supporters of Israel.
Israel has been for more than seven years pressing Lebanon into negotiations for peace. However, the Lebanese position gains a lot of support as well as international recognition by virtue of Resolution 425 which is also supported by Resolution 426 that describes how the unconditional withdrawal should take place.
Israel today wants to withdraw from Lebanon after reaching agreements over security provisions for its northern borders, as well as for guarantees for the Israeli-fostered Southern Army of General Lahad. In addition to this, Israel wants to make sure that Hizbuallah and the rest of the Lebanese Resistance are disarmed before it withdraws. All these are politically considered as conditions to withdrawal, none of which confirms with Resolution 425.
The only way through which Lebanon can maintain a dignified exit out of its problem with Israel is through applying Resolution 425, that is, through unconditional withdrawal of Israeli armies and termination of Israeli occupation of the Southern territories of Lebanon.
However, Resolution 425 cannot simply be applied without certain measures that need to be taken by the Lebanese government. The most important step is to have a strong Lebanese army that can take over the place of Israeli army in the South. At the same time, this army has to be able to impose security, order and peace in the liberated areas. Besides, it has to be able to replace the armed Resistance.
Israel of course has the right to have concerns over its national borders and the security of its Northern territories. Yet, such a concern is not more important than Lebanon’s concern about its security, especially as Israeli attacks on civilian targets has continued for over two decades. The western powers are aware of this and the US in particular feels that this situation might be too difficult as long as both the Lebanese and the Israeli sides stick to their conditions.
The situation is so far considered to be a stalemate. However, there are signs which indicate that Lebanon’s best policy now is to stick to Resolution 425, avoid any kind of negotiation over peace with Israel, and at the same time, prepare itself for a possible Israeli withdrawal. First of all, the Israeli army has incurred a serious number of losses in South Lebanon, not to mention the heavy cost of the occupation. This situation imposes a lot of pressure on the Israeli government, not only from peace-seeking lobbies and organizations, but also from within the Israeli army where morale is generally low due to the continuous involvement in the guerrilla war in South Lebanon against Hizbullah.
At the same time, the Israeli government is facing a difficult situation every time a new attack is carried out on its armies. The opposition is hawkish on this issue and is generating support for an immediate and unconditioned withdrawal from South Lebanon.
However, Lebanon has to be prepared with its army in order to replace Hizbullah, peacefully of course, otherwise, the situation might turn into a bloody encounter with the Israeli armies if Hizbullah continues to attack Israeli targets inside Israel. Israel might withdraw, but it might also return in the form of air raids and fast attacks against Lebanese vital institutions and targets.
On the international level, Lebanon must be now prepared in order to push Resolution 425 harder in international circles in order to cut the road against any possible Israeli bargaining that would end up putting conditions on applying the resolution. Lebanon’s diplomacy is now at stake, and so is Resolution 425.
Dispatches of Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Resolution 425. 1998.
AS-Safire. “Israeli Maneuvers against Resolution 425.” February 14,
1998, p. 2.