There’s Something Happening Here

But I’m not sure how to reconcile these two headlines: Olmert orders expansion of ground offensive; and US and Lebanon say ceasefire deal in sight.

In the former story, Prime Minister Olmert is quoted: “We see that the ceasefire deal in the U.N. is not making the required progress, and therefore we have authorized the military action.”

In the latter story, John Bolton is quoted: “We are now very, very close to agreement and our aspiration to have a vote at the end of the afternoon remains.”

No details yet on the terms of the proposed Security Council resolution, but the “deal in sight” story says:

The latest compromise calls for a phased Israeli withdrawal as the Lebanese army moves into the south. At the same time, the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon would be reinforced by up to 15,000 French and other troops.

As part of the deal, Hizbollah would pull out from south of the Litani River, 20 km (13 miles) from the Israeli border.

A second resolution on a permanent ceasefire would follow within a month, tackling a range of outstanding issues, including the release of the two soldiers held by Hizbollah.

Israel will reserve the right to re-enter Lebanon in future if the proposed U.N. force fails to stop Hizbollah fighters from returning to the border, a top military official said.

Apart from anything else, it seems inconceivable that the fate of the kidnapped soldiers will await a future resolution.

UPDATE by PAUL: According to the Jerusalem Post,

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the IDF on Friday to send ground forces into Lebanon and up to the Litani river, some 30 kilometers from Israel.

The decision to go ahead was reached after it became evident that a UN resolution would not include the disarmament of Hizbullah. In any case, officials stressed that the ground operation could come to a halt at any time if an acceptable cease-fire resolution is put on the table.


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