Finding a Political Way towards Peace

Timothy Garton Ash is right to promote the cause of liberal democracy in the Middle East, but although Hizbullah has embraced parliamentary politics, it simultaneously continued the armed struggle (A little democracy is a dangerous thing – so let’s have more of it, August 3). In contrast, the Irgun transformed itself into an Israeli political party in 1948 and ceased its violence. Whereas both the Irgun and the IRA are products of the national revolutionary tradition in Europe, Hizbullah emerged out of the Iranian revolution of 1979.

The original Hizbullah programme, published on February 16 1985, stated that their struggle will end only when the “Zionist entity” is obliterated. It continued, “we recognise no treaty with it, no ceasefire and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated”. This has neither been renounced nor published on any Hizbullah website, which projects a parliamentary imagery instead. Unless it makes an ideological compromise, the initiatives of Tony Blair and the UN will be meaningless. Clearly, the only way out is for Hizbullah to give up its military ambitions and to become solely a political party.

Dr Colin Shindler
SOAS, University of London

Guardian 4 August 2006

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