As far as I can tell, we don't have one of these threads yet. I just couldn't resist posting this piece from the Guardian:

Quote Originally Posted by Guardian
Lebanon and Israel need a proper border agreement

Focusing on a pact to calm border tensions is far better than arguing over who fired the first shot in this week's confrontation

Good fences make good neighbours, according to an old proverb – the idea being that friction is less likely if those on both sides of the line know exactly where they stand. On that basis, the border fence between Israel and Lebanon is a bad one. On Tuesday it led to a military confrontation in which five people died: three Lebanese soldiers, an Israeli officer and a civilian Lebanese journalist.

The problem with the fence is that when the Israelis erected it following their withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, they did not follow the border line exactly. In places, they adjusted the route for convenience and military reasons.

As a result, various pockets of what is still legally Israeli territory lie on the Lebanese side of the fence. The Israelis call them "enclaves" and don't always see eye to eye with Lebanese government about their extent and location.

Now you might think that the sensible thing for the Israelis to do about these relatively unimportant patches of land would be to forget about them – which, initially, is more or less what they did.

However, according to Amos Harel, writing in Haaretz, since the 2006 war "the IDF has changed its policy toward the enclaves, and it insists on maintaining a presence there, in order to exercise Israeli sovereignty there".

That is obviously a recipe for trouble, though the military logic behind it seems to be that the Israelis want to stop trees and bushes from growing in the enclaves where they might obstruct the view over Lebanese territory or provide cover for Hezbollah fighters.

So, from time to time the Israelis cross their not-exactly-a-border-fence to do a spot of gardening (a video on the BBC website shows them using a vehicle with an extending arm for this purpose). It was one such gardening expedition that led to yesterday's fighting.

Of course, all this might have been taken care of had there been a proper border agreement between Israel and Lebanon. It could easily have included a clause stipulating that an area of 500 metres or whatever, on either side of the fence, would be kept clear of trees and bushes – under UN supervision if necessary.

The underlying problem here is that in 2000 Israel withdrew from Lebanon unilaterally, without an agreement. That followed the breakdown of peace talks with Syria (which at the time held sway over Lebanon) and it had all sorts of adverse political consequences – among them, allowing Hezbollah to claim victory and, probably, contributing to the start of the second Palestinian intifada.

Regardless of whether Israel should have been occupying southern Lebanon in the first place, pulling out without an agreement was stupid. But Israel does have a propensity for this sort of unilateral action (witness the "disengagement" from Gaza).

It's the same kind of behaviour that's favoured by old-fashioned company bosses when they are trying to show who is in charge – and it's covered in lesson one of courses in industrial relations and business negotiating as something you should never do unless you want to make matters worse.

It's still not too late to rectify the mistake of 10 years ago and calm the border tensions with an agreement, though whether the latest incident will prompt serious efforts to do that is another matter. What's really needed is a three-way pact involving Lebanon, Israel and Syria (since Syria is still an important player in Lebanon, not to mention the thorny Shebaa farms issue). To focus on that would be far better than arguing over who fired the first shot on Tuesday.

At the same time, we're left wondering whether Israel's over-the-fence expedition – at such a sensitive time for Lebanon over the Hariri tribunal – was provocative or just dumb. Israel may well have been acting within its rights, but was it really a wise thing to do for the sake of a few bushes? Wars have started over less.

Always refreshing to see that there's a way to blame Israel.