The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has finally cobbled together a ceasefire proposal that should create enough pressure on the combatants to go for a cessation of hostilities. There is a real opportunity for the ceasefire to work because the different sides in the UNSC agreed to it not only for the sake of agreeing but also with the resolve to back it up with enough diplomatic persuasion and pressure. Thus, it is not just one of those resolutions passed over the heads of the belligerents not to be taken seriously. The resolution over Lebanon has been crafted with a great deal of care to ensure that it meets the basic needs of both sides.
As it is, both Israel and their Hejbollah opponents have suffered a lot of casualties and destructions. So, there should be temptation on both sides to accept the resolution. The Israeli government stated that they would settle for a ceasefire by Monday after the consideration and approval of it by their Cabinet. This is likely to be only a formality though the greater chances are that Israel will utilise the time remaining before a ceasefire comes into effect to reach as much military advantageous positions as possible. The Hejbollah leadership has already accepted the ceasefire proposal and so have the Lebanese government. Thus, the possibilities are that relative peace will descend on Lebanon soon. This would meet the broad expectation of the international community because the war in Lebanon, earlier, was threatening to take the shape of a wider conflagration threatening international peace and security and the world economy.
Thus, the UN and the international community could not have acted any sooner to effect a ceasefire in Lebanon. Having done this, they now need to concert their actions and their diplomacy to the maximum to ensure that the ceasefire actually happens and that it continues to hold. The big powers, specially the US, have moved with a sense of urgency to adopt a resolution that would have enough appeal for the warring sides and also communicated to the combatants that they are absolutely eager for its immediate implementation. With the same kind of determination and sense of priority with which they drafted and endorsed the UNSC resolution, the big powers are now expected to maintain relentless pressure on all parties in the conflict to do their best at the fastest to declare a ceasefire and implement its terms and conditions scrupulously.
The first thing in order is for all kinds of military activities to cease immediately. Next will come the phases such as the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon, the takeover of the evacuated areas by Lebanese and UN forces and effective demilitarisation of the areas evacuated by Israeli forces. Hopefully, the ceasefire is now only a question of time. But the implementation of rest of the agreement will determine whether peace will come to Lebanon on a lasting basis or will fade away only after the pause of a short-lived ceasefire. Therefore, the international community -- specially the big powers -- will need to work together in the same manner in which they worked in the UNSC to issue a call for a ceasefire. The ceasefire call is praiseworthy. But its real value can come about only from similar commendable follow-up activities by the powers to ensure full implementation of its terms, without reverses and as early as possible.