Facing increasing opposition at home as well as harsh criticism from the army, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will accept a US-French cease fire proposal that includes precious little of what he was demanding just a short week ago.
Until last weekend, Olmert was insisting that any cease fire include a strong international force, independent of UNIFIL with robust rules of engagement, immediate and unconditional return of the captured Israeli soldiers, the disarming of Hizbullah, and no withdrawal of Israeli troops until the international force arrived.
He settled for considerably less:
The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, would ask the UN force to monitor a full cessation of hostilities and help Lebanese forces gain control over an area that has previously been under de facto authority of Hizbullah.
It emphasizes the need for the “unconditional release” of the two IDF soldiers captured July 12, but does not make a direct demand for their freedom.
Additionally, it calls on Israel and Lebanon to agree to a long-term solution under which Hizbullah would be disarmed.
The Security Council was expected to vote on the draft at 1 a.m. (IST).
About 2,000 UN troops and observers are now stationed in Lebanon. The draft would authorize an increase to a total of 15,000 troops.
The text of the draft does not specify which chapter of the UN Charter the force would be authorized under. Instead, it says the force’s mandate would include several elements: monitoring the cessation of hostilities, accompanying Lebanese troops as they deploy and as Israel withdraws, and ensuring humanitarian access
Haaretz is reporting that in fact, the expanded UNIFIL force will operate under Chapter 6 rules which are considerably less forceful than Chapter 7:
Britain’s UN Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry said the resolution would give the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon an enhanced mandate to help coordinate the eventual withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops. But it would ultimately be deployed under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter - which Israel has previously opposed.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke Friday morning with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Livni demanded that the international force be under Chapter 7 and not a modified version of chapter 6 as the French representatives offered.
Israeli officials familiar with the negotiations predicted Friday morning that the U.S. will hold firm in regard to this demand and will not compromise on the resolution. An Israeli official told Haaretz that if the resolution will be watered down to an unacceptable level Israel will not halt any military operation.
So Hassan Nassrallah will emerge from his bunker in triumph, probably to massive demonstrations of support in Beirut and elsewhere in the Arab world. The question of Hizbullah “disarming” and the Shebaa Farms will be held over until later along with prisoner exchange. And Olmert?
The long knives are out already and it is doubtful his government can survive this abject surrender. Israeli politics is about to become very interesting. Whoever emerges from the coming scrum will have a monumental job to do. He must rebuild the confidence of the people in their army and their leadership. He must clean house in the IDF. And he must prepare for Round Two of the Israeli-Islamist conflict. Because this isn’t a cease fire as much as it is a battlefield pause. Whether they resume fighting in 6 months or a year doesn’t matter. If nothing else, Iran will see to it that there will be another war. They gained so much from this one, the temptation will be great to follow up their triumph whenever they see an opening.
Lebanon will continue to limp along. The March 14th coalition will hopefully continue in power with a little more sober realization of the dangers of having a terrorist organization in their midst. But Nasrallah is untouchable for the foreseeable future. Any attempt to disarm him will either bring down Siniora’s government or start a civil war. And the democrats should expect no help from the UNIFIL force in disarming the terrorists. That’s not what they’re there for. They are there only until the Lebanese “army” sits down in the south to continue their existence as a barracks army. The real power will still be Nasrallah and his fighters.
The forces of freedom took a huge hit today. But there are defeats in every war and it is up to us to redouble our efforts to confront a now emboldened enemy. I have a terrible feeling that we’ll get a chance to redeem ourselves sooner rather than later.
Allah is on the ball, already rounding up MSM news and react. I expect he’ll have blog reaction as well just as soon as that starts trickling in. Check Hot Air often.