France, which had joined with the U.S. in proposing a cease-fire in Lebanon that did not require immediate Israeli withdrawal, reportedly has now surrendered that position. Joining with its real allies, the Arab states, France apparently is calling for a complete and immediate Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon as a condition of any cease-fire. In addition, the French reportedly have agreed with Arab demands that the Lebanese force be accompanied only by UNIFIL (the feckless U.N. outfit), with no international force to be deployed.
Presumably, the U.S. will insist on some kind of international force. In any case, Israel almost certainly will, notwithstanding Prime Minister Olmert’s odd statement that Lebanon’s proposal to send 15,000 members of its army to the south to “stablilize” the area is “interesting.” The notion that 15,000 Lebanese troops could counteract Hezbollah would be absurd even if it were not the case that some of these troops support the terrorist outfit and many others are sympathetic towards it (unfortunately, the notion that any international force would do much better than the Lebanese army is also implausible). I find it curious that some on left ridicule the willingness and/or ability of Iraq’s large security force to protect Iraqis, citing among things alleged divided loyalty within its ranks, yet expect Israel to believe that 15,000 Lebanese troops would be willing and able to disarm Hezbollah in the name of protecting Israel.
In any case, no cease fire is likely soon, and this will give Israel more time to degrade Hezbollah. In this regard, the Jerusalem Post reports that the security cabinet is expected to approve an expanded ground operation up to the Litani River, and perhaps beyond. The IDF is said to have requested approval for the expanded operation on Sunday, but the seemingly erratic Olmert did not bring this matter to the security cabinet until Wednesday.