Interview: Ghassan Andoni – ‘The Palestinian Gandhi’

August 1, 2006 12:43 PM IMEMC & Agencies Interview, Miscellaneous, Palestine 0

"Israel has actually from the early days of the invasion lost most of its deterrence cards against Hezbollah but apparently Hezbollah still has the possibility of disrupting life in central Israel", said Ghassan Andoni, one of the leaders of the non-violent movement in Palestine, in an exclusive interview with the IMEMC.
Interview with Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian political analysist

Q:  What is your analysis for the Lebanese Israeli War?

A:  If you want to try to get out scenarios of what would happen, I think Israel is going to continue with the assault and continue to escalate it.  I don’t think they will consider any ceasefire or any way out of it simply because Israel thinks of any crisis war it goes to as existential and not actually a round that could be followed by other rounds, therefore I believe there will be more destruction because of Israel’s disability to win a ground assault against Hezbollah. We would be seeing in the coming future more and more destruction in Gaza as well as in Southern Lebanon and other areas in Lebanon.  So what I would say is that you expect a much more longer crisis than many expected and there would be many surprises to this war which means that it could create its own dynamic and goes out of proportion.  This war influences all the region and therefore one should keep an eye on what will be happening to the boiling messes or masses in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Palestine and the other areas.  If the war continues for a long period of time it could create a high level of instability in the region that can bring surprises to the region.  That’s the best you can say about it.  I doubt that at any stage that there will be a war that involves Syria unless Israel with the consent of the United States decides to strike Syria directly, but I don’t see this as a scenario that is expected soon in this battle and I don’t see how Israel would be able to win against Hezbollah because his strength and support is among people who are not beneficiaries of any level of stability so it won’t influence the level of destruction and I believe Israel lost this deterrence in particular in Lebanon and Gaza and therefore have to come up with other military solutions to the problem and apparently their army is not capable of doing it yet or it might need a more massive war into Lebanon to change the military status quo that exists there.

Q:  What do you think of Hezbollah announcing that they will step out their attacks for the stage after Haifa?  

A:  I think what we see in Southern Lebanon is a game of deterrence that each party wants to employ some of its capabilities in the right time.  Israel has actually from the early days of the invasion lost most of its deterrence cards against Hezbollah but apparently Hezbollah still has the possibility of disrupting life in central Israel mainly in the Dan area and if that happens it will have a big influence on Israel simply because that’s the vibrant economical social whatever life in Israel, so putting that into the same situation in the northern area is applying high pressure on Israel, so I do expect in the coming period there will be limitations applied by both parts on what they do or not do in order to not allow the other party to expand more, so I think it should be taken seriously, the Hezbollah threat should be taken seriously because I believe they have the capability of doing that, now whether Hezbollah’s going to use it at this particular time or later in this war, that’s something that’s left to strategic considerations of both sides.

Q:  About the Arab leaders situation, and their silence if not backing up the war against Hezbollah, what do you think about that or the meeting that happened in Italy, the outcomes of that meeting- the failure of that meeting.  

A:  Nothing came out of Italy and has no influence on the crisis itself.  Apparently, in Italy, especially the United States, decided that it needs to give more time to Israel, hoping that Israel would do some achievements on the ground and then go into talking about a ceasefire or a political deal.  The main issue there is actually the Lebanese Prime Minister proposal of solving the problem, which in part is acceptable by the United States and allies, but not in order or timing or schedule, but it will be unlikely that his program will be accepted by Hezbollah, and without consulting with Hezbollah there will be no political deal or diplomatic deal in the region.  As for Arab countries, Arab countries I think are worried that the example of Lebanon where you have a loose weak central government, but fighting the enemy is actually in the hands of a strong guerrilla fighting group is becoming more attractive to Arab masses, and therefore people would start looking at them as being an obstacle to the Arab masses’ ability to force Israel to loose deterrence and become more realistic in dealing with the Palestinian issue or the Lebanese issue and not to deal with them from the standpoint of I can defeat you all and therefore you have to accept my terms.  I think as this example is becoming more and more attractive those Arab regimes are feeling threatened.  They don’t like to see this example given a chance because that will mean a major level of instability in the entire region.  

Transcribed by Jacque Shoen
Interviewed by Ghassan H. Bannnoura

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