Israel Is at an Impasse: It Can Make Neither War Nor Peace

The Main Points of the Speech

We reiterate on this occasion our condolences for the loss of our dear martyrs, and our congratulations as well, for they are ultimately the first victors.  They are our glory and pride.

I will discuss current challenges and our strategy for addressing them.  When we remember these leaders and study their lives and their conduct, we find common characteristics: faith, piety, loyalty, honesty, love of others. . . .  It is these characteristics, we understand, that enable human beings to stand strong against the enemy, moved and touched by the martyrs and the massacres at Qana and elsewhere.

Another common point is their youth.  Even in childhood they were aware of the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Thanks to Imam Moussa Sadr, they understood the real causes of the conflict, and they were willing to make all necessary sacrifices.  Already in childhood they were men, and unlike simple youth, they never wasted their time on amusements.  God assigned each to his tasks.  Sheikh Ragheb Harb was the symbol of the popular revolution and rejection of any compromise with the enemy.  His blood founded the resistance. . . .  Sayyed Abbas played a major role in the military foundation of the resistance, while Hajj Imad Mughniyeh embodied the peoples’ and fighters’ aspiration for freedom.  Each of them was martyred at a young age.  Sheikh Ragheb was 32 years old, Sayyed Abbas was 40, and Hajj Imad was 46.

They were all young and yet had a sense of responsibility.  They worked on the path to God so that the nation may live in dignity, free and secure.  These young leaders created generations of young people who have taken charge of resistance, to endure and achieve victories.  These young people are now the most important factor of the force in Lebanon; these young people are ready to sacrifice themselves to protect their country.  This is the legacy of these martyred leaders.

On every occasion, we recognize their achievements, as well as the achievements of all the martyrs who liberated our land and prisoners and protected Lebanon.  These martyrs want us to protect their achievements, their blood sacrifice, and their choice of resistance.

Currently, and in response to the latest challenges, several issues are raised.  Alas, each time we must pose the same questions again, because some don’t wish to learn from our experiences or other historical experiences in the world.  And here we are once again discussing the choices and means.

Can American promises protect Lebanon?  If Biden and Obama promise us to protect Lebanon, are they really capable of keeping their promise?  They could not stop the colonization (in the occupied Palestinian territories) or impose the application of the international resolutions (on Israel).

Have the international resolutions protected Lebanon in the last 60 years?  Can the international community do so, when it is interested only in the interests of great powers?

Can we protect Lebanon if we proclaim its neutrality?  Does this put an end to Israeli ambitions and greed for our land and our water?

Moreover, Lieberman and other Israeli officials announced that it is no longer possible to accept the principle of peace in return for land and that they will not free any prisoner any more.  We, Palestinians and Lebanese, are all concerned about these remarks.  He said that there will be no return of refugees to occupied Palestine.

What is strange is that in Lebanon we are debating what should be self-evident.  In all societies there are still laws and principles.  Everywhere it is said that only force can protect men, that the weak have no place, that only the strong can achieve their goals.

Can Lebanon be strong?  Yes, that’s what we have proven.  It is now stronger than ever.  We have a creative formula.  Some tell us that this formula does not exist anywhere else.  Well, but you say that Lebanon is one of a kind!  This formula of power that brings together the people, the resistance, and the army has proven its effectiveness.  If someone puts on the table of dialogue other formulas to meet all the challenges, we will ask military experts to decide and choose the appropriate option.

On the level of domestic politics, I must commend the official positions of the head of state, the head of government, the speaker of the parliament, the army commander, and other senior leaders and officials of Lebanese parties who reject the threats and affirm the unity of Lebanon in the face of challenges.  Similarly, I very much appreciate the positions of the president of the republic and the head of government who insist on this point during their many travels.

However, some parties in Lebanon talk about pretexts.  They say: “We reject the Israeli threats, but it is necessary not to give a pretext to Israel.”  That is a false statement; Israel does not need any pretext to attack any country.  This has been so since 1948: Israel does not need any pretext.  It can, for example, order a failed assassination somewhere, attributing responsibility to Hezbollah, Syria, or Hamas, to then attack them.  Some parties blame the resistance for all responsibility for confrontation.  We are ready to discuss this idea to demonstrate its falsity.

However, a more dangerous thought is beginning to take hold in some limited circles.  It questions the existence of this resistance.  It says that the mere fact that the resistance exists, even if it is not doing anything, constitutes a sufficient pretext for pushing Israel to attack Lebanon.  Such a statement is very dangerous because it justifies Israeli attacks in the future even if the resistance doesn’t give any pretext.  Even the Israelis on the whole do not advocate such a view; they say that the existence of the resistance in itself is not sufficient to initiate an aggression against Lebanon.  It seems that those who advocate it are unhappy with the calm that reigns on the border since they cannot find an excuse to attack Hezbollah.  So they resort to the condemnation of the existence of the resistance.

Statements like that are very dangerous because isn’t it the case that they are a call to war?  We’re in a situation similar to that of 1982.  Some are disappointed because their hopes have recently evaporated, and they may believe that they will be saved only through a new Israeli war against Lebanon.  What is then the position of the state?  Will it remain silent in the face of those who justify Israel’s aggression against Lebanon?

As for Israel, its strategic situation since its double failure in the last two wars against Lebanon and Gaza is as follows: from our point of view, Israel is at an impasse: it can neither impose peace on its own terms nor make war.  It cannot obtain peace without returning the Golan to Syria, the Shebaa villages and the Kfar Shuba hills to Lebanon, not to mention the Palestinian territories.  Can the Israelis impose peace on the Arab peoples and countries without restoring their lands including Jerusalem and allowing the return of refugees?  Especially given all our respect to the Arab initiative.

In all cases, there is no partner for peace on either side.  Everything that we have seen since the 2006 war and the Gaza war, such as Israeli military exercises and maneuvers, is something predictable, meant to compensate for the bitter defeat they suffered; they themselves have acknowledged that the resistance is now stronger.  Ehud Olmert has himself acknowledged his defeat in the Gaza war, since the goal for him was to eliminate Hamas, but he failed to do so. 

Israel cannot make war on Iran or Syria or Lebanon without obtaining a guarantee for its victory in advance.  For Israel to go to war, there is an indispensable condition: a guarantee for a categorical victory, sure and certain.  A probably victory is certainly no longer sufficient.

I do not underestimate the Israeli capacity, but we are so strong that Israel cannot attack us.  Neither the Israeli army nor the rest of the Israelis can bear another defeat, because it means the beginning of their end.  I dare say I am among those who follow the Israeli military and security conferences, as well as Israeli news and analyses, most closely.  All of them are unanimous on the point that Israel cannot make another war without first obtaining a guarantee of its outcomes.

The way we see it, the Israelis cannot wage another war, so they are currently seeking new weapons and conducting exercises, while continuing to suffer from recruitment problems.

I am going to say to you, and say to the Israelis, too, whose leaders continue to deceive them: the Iron Dome is more a fiction than reality, it is very expensive, and its effectiveness is very limited.

The Israelis need time to solve its military problems.  But, at the same time, they are working to thwart the military preparations of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian resistance organizations.  How?

First, by brandishing the threat of war: if you do this, if you do that, we will unleash a war. . . .  If you deliver such and such weapons to Hezbollah. . . .  They intimidate Syria, Iran, and the Lebanese government.  The aim is to prevent them from improving their military performance.

Second, they use security operations, killing the leaders responsible for war preparations, like Hajj Imad and Hajj Mabhouh. . . .  

Third, they try to sow discord and dissension.  The main obstacle facing the inter-Palestinian reconciliation is Israel, and any Arab party that hinders the reconciliation is serving the interests of Israel and is being its accomplice.
In Lebanon, their attempts at sowing discord have never ceased.  Why does Lieberman say that it was Hezbollah that was behind the assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri?  This version was launched by Der Spiegel and has been recently taken up again by Le Monde.  What is distinctive about Lieberman is that he speaks from his guts.  This is an important point so that we know how the Israelis think.

Therefore we must consider such threats as more a psychological war against the Lebanese people and government than anything else, trying to hinder the efforts of the resistance in its military development.  They can also raise the morale of Israeli society by persuading its people that the Israeli army is ready to attack. . . .

However, analyzing the words of Israeli officials, we find that 75% of such statements are conditional: if the resistance does this, we’ll do that, and we will wreak destruction.  That leaves an impression that they are afraid.  This is a considerable political gain.  Since the beginning of the conflict, it has always been Israel that threatened first.  Today Israel is afraid — it says, “if you do this we will strike.”
Secondly, if these threats are meant to prepare for war, which is certainly not imminent, how should we confront them?  By strength, courage, perseverance, and counter-threat.  This is effective against Israel.  For if the Israelis feel that their threats have frightened people, they will go to war.  Only by responding to threats by counter-threats can we prevent war, especially if counter-threats are backed by facts.

We have an experience of that.  A few days ago, Barak threatened Syria with war.  The Syrian reaction, which this time seems to have been less tied to Barak’s statements than to the messages sent through him by third parties, was conveyed through the voice of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  That is to say, through the diplomatic authority, which is generally supposed to use a diplomatic language smoothing out rough edges.  I think that Israel was surprised by the Syrian reaction, and the Arabs, too.  A few hours later, all Israeli officials, one after another, said that they did not want a war with Syria.  This took place just a few days ago.

We in Lebanon proceed in the same way.  On several occasions, Barak threatened us with a lightning victory, certain and categorical, whose goal is to eradicate the resistance and everything that revolves around the resistance.  He said among other things that, during the 2006 war, the Air Force could not settle the war, suggesting that infantry troops should be deployed in ground battles, and that he would send five battalions to fight us in Lebanon.   We then responded that we would be delighted to welcome them, to tear them to pieces and to destroy them.  Subsequently, Israel retreated.  We no longer hear them talk about a sure and certain victory.  The commander of the northern region has even asked for modest goals that can be executed.

A few months ago, Barak used the remarks that I myself had made, I think at the funeral of Hajj Imad.  I said then that if you looked at the border, you would not see anything, but, if you looked a little farther, you would see tens of thousands of fighters armed to the teeth, waiting.   That’s the fact they have at hand.  When I say we are ready to fight in every village, I cannot deceive the Israelis; they have the means for espionage to ascertain the correctness of my remarks.  The Israelis take my threats into consideration, because they have data that confirm their reality.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is Secretary General of Hezbollah.  Video by Press TV.  The main points of the speech below the videos are taken from an article published by Al-Manar on 16 February 2010: “Sayed Nasrallah: Israël est dans l’impasse, ne peut ni faire la guerre ni la paix.”  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at]  See, also, Sami Moubayed, “Israel’s War Drums 2010.”

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