- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2006

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan betrayed his apolitical guise yesterday, as was manifest by his preposterous allegation that an Israeli attack on a U.N. post in southern Lebanon was “apparently deliberate.” Mr. Annan knows full well that Israel would never, even if it suited its interests, deliberately attack U.N. personnel or other innocents — not when the entire world is waiting to unleash its righteous indignation against any perceived “disproportionate” Israeli response to ongoing Hezbollah terror.

Most tellingly, Mr. Annan’s comments did not come during an impromptu press conference with reporters, where any number of silly things are often mistakenly said. Rather, they came via a prepared statement, released by Mr. Annan’s Rome office, meaning, the secretary-general had ample time to consider his words. That being the case, perhaps Mr. Annan’s intent was to increase pressure on Israel to accept terms of a ceasefire, especially since he later called for participants in a Middle East conference to push for an immediate halt to hostilities. Regardless, that his first instinct was to blame Israel seems to have lifted the curtain on Mr. Annan’s pre-existing prejudices against Israel.

The curious part is that if anyone — aside from Hezbollah — should be blamed for the deaths of the four U.N. observers, it’s the secretary-general himself. The purpose of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, is primarily to support the Lebanese government’s re-establishment of authority in the area. Judging by Hezbollah’s re-entrenchment of southern Lebanon over the last few years, UNIFIL seems to have utterly failed in that mission. But since the start of the current hostilities, UNIFIL personnel have been acting as humanitarian agents, mostly shuttling Lebanese out of targeted areas. At times, UNIFIL has even coordinated its evacuation efforts with Israel to ensure that the Israeli military is aware of the location of a U.N. convoy.

Nevertheless, U.N. posts near Hezbollah targets have been accidentally hit or caught between small-arms fire, and several U.N. workers have been wounded. Despite this, according to a July 23 UNIFIL press report, “All UNIFIL positions in the area of operation remain permanently occupied.” Mr. Annan surely knew this, yet he elected to keep his workers in the middle of a war zone and surrounded by Hezbollah anyway. As they say, it was only a matter of time.

This all makes Mr. Annan’s accusation even more despicable. Alas, in the salons of Turtle Bay, blaming Israel remains very much in vogue.

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