NPR's Weekend Edition

What Lies Beyond Israel and Lebanon?

SCOTT SIMON, host:

And we're joined in the studio now by Ambassador Martin Indyk, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel. He now directs the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. Thanks very much for being with us, Mr. Ambassador.

Ambassador MARTIN INDYK (Former U.S. Ambassador, Israel): My pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: And help us understand. Israel's reaction to the capture of two Israeli soldiers has been decried as disproportionate in a great many quarters, an arm and a leg, an eye and an arm and a leg as opposed to an eye for an eye. Help us to understand what Israeli policy is hoping to accomplish.

Ambassador INDYK: Well, I think one has to understand the broader context in which Israel withdrew from Lebanon six years ago, completely, and was endorsed by a U.N. Security Council resolution. And in the meantime, Hezbollah, with the help of Iran and the facilitation of Syria, has been building up a vast arsenal of rockets, some 10,000, now missiles with longer range that can hit the Israeli City of Haifa, and as Nasrullah had said yesterday, beyond Haifa.

And this has just been building up on Israel's northern border. The Lebanese government, notwithstanding U.N. Security Council resolutions which require it to extend its sovereignty to the south and send its army down there, has been too weak to do that. And so the context of Hezbollah's operation, particularly with what's going on with Hamas, led Israel, I think, to decide enough's enough, and we are going to take down this Hezbollah infrastructure that threatens our northern villages, towns and even cities. So that's the broader context in which they're operating.

Full Interview