FOREIGN AFFAIRS – GAZA – 15 January 2009

[Mr Edward Davey: ... According to the assessments that I have seen of what has happened to Hezbollah's strength in Lebanon, it has already been politically strengthened and is now being militarily strengthened. It is rebuilding its arsenals, which is completely contrary to the intentions of the Israeli attack. I am not sure if there are direct parallels with the attack on Hamas in Gaza, but I think that, certainly in terms of the politics of the situation, the Israeli invasion is very counter-productive.]

Dr Julian Lewis: The hon. Gentleman is making a very sensible argument about how terrorist organisations – and in the case of Gaza, a terrorist regime – deliberately try to provoke overreaction from their enemies, but I think he should pay more attention to the following aspect of the Israelis' point of view. I doubt if they ever thought they were going to win a propaganda war in the current situation, but let us consider it in relation to the invasion of Lebanon. That met with a similar degree of opposition worldwide, but is it not the case that there was an element of delayed deterrence in that the rocket attacks from that part of Israel's neighbourhood have almost died away completely? Should we not recognise that if the primary purpose of the current Israeli action is to stop the rockets, they may be making the calculation that it is worth losing a propaganda war in order to achieve that?

[Mr Davey: The hon. Gentleman studies these issues in great detail and has a great deal of knowledge and understanding of them, but I fear that the reduction in the number of rocket strikes from southern Lebanon – indeed, there has been a period of calm there – is not necessarily because Hezbollah cannot fire the rockets, but because it is choosing not to do so and is biding its time. Therefore, I do not think the case the hon. Gentleman makes is necessarily backed up by the fact that rockets have not been fired.]