Sunday, July 30, 2006
Ceasefire?? Or are things heating up?
Condi Rice cut short her mission in the Middle East after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and attempting to come up with a realistic basis for a ceasefire.
The Lebanese government refused to hold any diplomatic discussions without an immediate unconditional ceasefire by Israel. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora bluntly told Rice not to bother coming to Lebanon without that unconditional ceasefire. And Seniora than called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, appealing to the UN to 'put an end to the violence in Lebanon.'
At that emergency session in New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan severely criticized Israeli actions (what a surprise..), saying: 'We must condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. I am deeply dismayed that my earlier calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities were not heeded.'
Maybe Kofi should try talking to his pals in Hezbollah if he really wants a cessation of hostilities.
The proposition on the table Rice and Olmert were discussing involves a
multinational force for south Lebanon hinging on an armed French force (!!) to work with Lebanese troops and guard Lebanon’s borders with Israel and Syria, forming a buffer against the entry of armed militias to the border region. The deal includes the release of the two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah.Israeli concessions I've heard mentioned are a prisoner swap and the handover of the Shabaa Farms and strategic Mt. Dov to international control.
In other words, the deal Israel made with the UN in 2004 wasn't worth the paper it was written on..so let's just forget that it happened and write a new deal in response to the attack on Israel's sovereign territory...with the same people who didn't honor the terms of the original deal!
The French have already released the draft to be presented to the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire and the deployment of a multinational force under the UN. The text states the resolution is subject to the approval of "both parties"..unfortunately it doesn't specify whether they are talking about the Lebanese government or Hezbollah! Maybe they're one and the same...
Just for the record Nasrallah has openly said that Hezbollah will not allow themselves to be disarmed under any circumstances. And Hezbollah religious leader Sheikh Nabulsi was quoted as saying that if international troops come to South Lebanon, `we will attack them in the same way as we fight Israelis'.
The French, by the way have excellent relations with Hezbollah. They've maintained close contacts with Hezbollah government figures and with Hezbollah leader Sheik Nasrallah. And in 2004, French President Jacques Chirac invited Nasrallah to a conference of Francophone Arab leaders. They shook hands and the Hezbollah leader had the place of honor seated beside Chirac at the top table. France may well have gotten Hezbollah's consent on the language in the draft resolution. Which could be why disarming Hezbollah in accordance with UN Resolution 1559 is not in the draft and nowhere in the picture of any negotiations so far.
This draft, if adopted would give Nasrallah and his Iranian masters a major win and give Syria, Iran and the Palestinians an object lesson on the use of brute force to obtain results.
I've heard some speculation that the US push for a ceasefire is in response to Saudi pressure. I don't buy that.
The Saudis would have actually liked nothing better than for Hezbollah to be destroyed, in my opinion..they, like the other Sunni autocracies are concerned about Iran and a Shiite power bloc.
The problem is that Israel has the MILITARY capability, but the IDF was sent in piecemeal, in small units and airpower was supposed to make up the slack. Given the prediliction of people like Hezbollah to use civilians for human shields, today's carnage at Qana was inevitable, sooner or later.
When Sharon invaded Lebanon to take out the PLO, he sent in 30,000 troops and 4-500 tanks. The Olmert government sent in 3,000 or so and about 100 tanks, against an entrenched, heavily armed enemy.
Any wonder the IDF was unable to break Hezbollah's back in 18 days of combat?
The Israelis have curtailed air strikes in Lebanon for the next 48 hours...which amazes me,during wartime.
The ceasefire will come about if the Israeli government wants out and lacks the will to allow the IDF to finish its job...the only thing that will ultimately bring peace.
Oddly enough, there are some conflicting signals that could indicate that things could change rapidly, especially since the ceasefire efforts have collapsed thus far.
Olmert might have just been talking, but he made a point of saying that `This war was not started by us and we did not want it, but we will finish our counter-offensive until northern Israel is safe from Hizballah attack.' He spoke of continuing the offensive for another 10 to 14 days.
And I know for a fact that those 30,000 reservists that were on stand by have received their callups and have now been activated.
And that the US has stepped up the pace of airlifts of arms and munitions to Israel,including concrete bunker busters.