The members of the UN Dream Team got to brief Rice & the UN on their findings regarding hostilities in Lebanon, after having met Israeli, Lebanese, Egyptian, officials.
Israel's already firm intentions of seeing Hezbollah's rocket threat pushed back, and its soldiers released unconditionally have been backed up by soundly stiff terms:
No negotiations with Hezbollah on prisoners period, not through 3rd parties as well.
Israel told a visiting UN mission that it will not negotiate with Hezbollah through third parties, as in the past, for the release of its captured soldiers, a UN envoy told the Security Council on Friday. [...]
Nambiar, head of the three-man UN team dispatched to the region last weekend by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said it was clear from their talks with Israeli and Lebanese leaders that there were serious obstacles to achievement of a formal cease-fire agreement anytime soon. [...]
He said a political package able to pave the way for a durable cease-fire would have to end the Hezbollah threat against Israel while ensuring full respect by all Lebanese parties and neighbors of Lebanon's sovereignty. [...]
With Israeli ground troops operating in limited border clearing across the border, but massed to enable much more as necessary, Israel seems ready to back up those words. Israel has stressed no desire to occupy Lebanon, only to clear the Hezbollah threats and end the daily barrage of rockets attacking Israel.
Haaretz: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told reporters in Tel Aviv on Friday that any military incursion into Lebanon will be limited in scope.
"We will fight terror wherever it is because if we do not fight it, it will fight us. If we don't reach it, it will reach us," Halutz said in a nationally televised news conference. "We will also conduct limited ground operations as much as needed in order to harm the terror that harms us." When the army presented its plans for an operation in Lebanon, the timeframe that it provided was one of "weeks".
"It takes time to hit at terror," Halutz said.
"The restraint which we showed over the course of years is interpreted by those among the terrorists as weakness," the army chief said. "On this count, they made a horrible mistake by assuming that we would persist in holding back and restraining ourselves. Our duty as an army was – and we did as such – to recommend a halt to this development, which stems from a sense of us not having an answer." Halutz said that close to 100 Hezbollah gunmen have been killed over the course of the IDF offensive. [...]
Secretary Rice explained her vision for talks when she arrives in the mid east theatre this weekend.
JPOST: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, heading for a weekend trip to the troubled Middle East, said she would work with allies in the region to help create conditions for "stability and lasting peace." She ruled out a quick cease-fire as a "false promise" and defended her decision not to talk to officials from Hizbullah or Syria.
It is a strong diplomatic line and in my opinion quite justified. Kofi Annan in interviews today stressed the common elements of his UN plan to Rice's vision, that's a rosy take to say the least. The UN will have a heck of a time getting a credible force in to enforce a cease fire of any sorts on Hezbollah. Annan was obssesive about stopping fighting for humanitarian purposes, not really mentioning Israel's population also dispossesed by Terrorism at all.
Personally, I think Israel will operate as necessary for at least two weeks or more, until it sees substantial progress on its goals. And after that, I have a feeling that the only acceptable & credible mandated force for the area can be NATO controlled, a serious contingent at that.
Whatever the case may be, difficult and tense days as the IDF works ceaselessly in the air and on the ground. Godspeed.
Links to all sides of the conflict: Truth Laid Bear