Friday, August 11, 2006

Israel/Lebanon War Updates

Updated throughout the day.

- On Thursday, the Israeli government said it had delayed its plans for a massive ground invasion of Lebanon to the chagrin of IDF troops who claimed they were denied victory as a result. This was the soundbite yesterday:

"There is a certain diplomatic process under way," Tourism Minister Yitzhak Herzog told Israel's Army Radio. "We can allow a little more time to see if there's a possibility for a diplomatic process."

But Herzog, a member of Israel's decision-making security cabinet, made clear Israel would go ahead with its military plans if the talks failed.

"If there won't be a diplomatic solution, there will be a need to remove this threat," he added,

On Friday, the day of the expected vote on a revised draft of a UN resolution, we now learn that Israel is going ahead with the offensive regardless of diplomatic efforts. A CBC Newsworld UN correspondent explained what happened. He said that Israel is completely opposed to having UNIFIL forces in southern Lebanon, preferring a troop presence that would fight against Hezbollah. So, in other words, Israel didn't get its way and will ignore the will of the UN Security Council if it votes for a resolution that doesn't include exactly what Israel wants ie. a continued war.

"The Americans are aware of what we can accept and cannot accept. And I very much hope that in the end of the day there will not be submitted a draft that is unacceptable to us," Israel's U.N. ambassador, Dan Gillerman, told Israel's Channel Two television, according to a Reuters news service report.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev told CNN that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Rice and raised concerns about the resolution.

"Our action does not exclude a diplomatic option. On the contrary, we are following developments in New York closely. But so far diplomacy has not produced concrete results and it is incumbent upon the government to defend its citizens," AP quoted Regev as saying.

The resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon to coincide with a Lebanese deployment of troops in the area, the official said.

Don't count on a ceasefire happening any time soon.

Gillerman also had this to say about Lebanese government demands:

When describing the Lebanese position, Gillerman was somewhat less enthused, insinuating that Beirut's diplomacy was puerile: "Lebanon stands by the same position it has maintained thus far, a position that makes many demands that might even be called crybaby."

And Gillerman is supposed to be a world class diplomat? What an arrogant bastard.

- Anyone interested in how the Israeli propaganda machine works should read (and view) this and this. Hezbollah also uses propaganda but their efforts are absolutely no match for those we see from supporters of Israel. And, in the meantime, the legitimate Lebanese government seems to be pushed aside while these two entities fight it out in the media. Couple that with the Bush administration's thundering voice and the people who are suffering - on all sides - must be left wondering if anyone is really speaking for them as they lose their homes, children and families.

- I don't have a problem with celecrities using their fame to promote causes, but when people like David Mamet write revisionist history with sweeping generalizations like this, 'Europe has always been devoted to the destruction of the Jews', they need to be called on it.

- Aid agency/human rights groups reports:

Photo credit: Reuters

International Red Cross
Medecins Sans Frontier
Amnesty International
Mercy Corps
Save the Children
World Vision

- Hat tip to knb for passing on this link to me about a ceasefire petition.

Sign the petition below and your message will be delivered to the UN Security Council and publicized in newspapers in the US, Europe and the Middle East.

There were 215,606 signers at the time I added my name.

- Support in Israel for Ehud Olmert has dropped dramatically according to a Ha'aretz poll:

While this is the first poll conducted by Haaretz since the fighting began, a comparison with polls by other organizations reveals a marked drop in support for the government. Olmert, for instance, enjoyed a 75 percent support rating early in the war, but the Haaretz poll found that only 48 percent currently approve his functioning, while 40 percent expressed dissatisfaction with it. Peretz, who enjoyed a 65 percent approval rating early in the war, won the approval of only 37 percent of respondents in the Haaretz poll, while 51 percent disapproved of his functioning. The figures for both men are now about the same as they were before the war began.

Most of the decline in both Olmert's and Peretz's ratings occurred just over the past week. One measure of the public dissatisfaction is that 53 percent of respondents said that the war would have gone better had the government been led by people with a "security background" - something that neither Olmert nor Peretz has.

Sound familiar?

- Editorial: Olmert cannot remain in the prime minister's office.

- Peace Now protests in Israel

...they encountered angry reactions from passing drivers and pedestrians, including cries of "Traitor!" and "May a missile fall on you!"

Yes, wanting peace is traitorous while supporting war is somehow virtuous. 1984, anyone?

UPDATE: The text of the revised UN resolution has been finalized. (I'll add a link to the full text when I find one). The resolution is now scheduled to be voted on later today. Early reports say the text includes expanding the number of UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon, something which Israel's government said earlier it had rejected. The Guardian has some details:

nitial indications were that Israel might be willing to accept the resolution even though it makes a key concession to Lebanon.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said the resolution would give U.N. forces in south Lebanon a mandate under Chapter 6 of the U.N. Charter - which Israel has previously opposed. But she said the mandate would be modified to make the force stronger than it's been in the 28 years it has been in south Lebanon.

The U.N. force, known by its acronym UNIFIL, would help coordinate the deployment of Lebanese forces to the south, which has been under de facto control of Hezbollah militias for years. Israeli troops that have occupied the area in more than four weeks of fighting would then withdraw.

The U.S. and France had originally wanted UNIFIL force deployed under the Charter's Chapter 7, which would give the troops even more robust rules of engagement. But Lebanon objected because of its fears that such a mandate would make the peacekeepers look like occupiers.
The two sides sent the new text to the governments of Israel and Lebanon, but a French diplomat said the vote would go ahead whatever the response. The council was likely to vote on the document about 7 p.m. EDT, the diplomat said.

There were indications that diplomats had managed to find language to eased Israel's concerns that a Chapter 6 mandate, no matter how enhanced, would leave the force too weak. An individual close to the Israeli government said there's a ``good chance'' Israel will a accept the new cease-fire proposal. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the government's high-stakes negotiations.

That reversal occured just hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed dissatisfaction with earlier Security Council proposals and decided to launch an expanded ground offensive in southern Lebanon.


more to come...

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