Monday, September 04, 2006

International Mediation Involvement - Politics

Here is an example of international mediation efforts from a story in today's headlines. Imagine the complexity of historical, political and emotional factors contributing to this negotiation and imagine the level of skill required by the unnamed mediator to open up a dialogue and create "an effective channel of communication." I have highlighted key issues regarding the mediation effort in this short article.

This article by DONNA ABU-NASR, Associated Press Writer
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia - U.N. chief
Kofi Annan said Monday he would appoint a mediator for indirect talks between Israel and Hezbollah on the release of two abducted Israeli soldiers, the first public word of negotiations between the bitter enemies since fighting in Lebanon ended.

The announcement raised the possibility of a prisoner swap to win the soldiers' release, an exchange which Israel has repeatedly rejected, at least in public. Until now, Israel had insisted that it would not hold any contacts with Hezbollah, but its government has been under increasing domestic pressure to bring the two home.

The agreement on the mediation effort could mark a breakthrough on an issue that is crucial to preserving the fragile 3-week-old cease-fire that ended 34 days of Israel-Hezbollah fighting. Israel mounted its offensive in Lebanon after the Shiite guerrillas seized the two soldiers and killed three others in a cross-border raid July 12.

The U.N. cease-fire resolution that ended the fighting on Aug. 14 urges the unconditional release of the two soldiers. Hezbollah has said it would free them only in a swap for Arab prisoners held by Israel.

"Both sides have accepted the good offices of the secretary-general to help resolve this problem," Annan told a news conference in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea port of Jiddah. "I will designate someone to work discreetly and quietly with them to find a solution." "The only thing that I insisted on is that if I'm going to use my good offices, then my mediator should be the only mediator," he said. "There must be one mediator and effective channel of communication." Annan said he would not announce the mediator's name to allow him to work quietly.

Annan did not say whether a prisoner swap was on the agenda for the mediation effort, and Israel on Monday repeated its stance demanding an unconditional release of the soldiers.
Asked about the mediation effort, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that during Annan's visit to Israel last week, "we urged him to bring about the full implementation of
U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, which calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages. "

Full article is available here at

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