I was less than enthused yesterday by some leaks and reports coming out of some of the more dovish members of Israel's political echelon which seemed resigned to failure.
Today, Olmert & Peretz met with the IDF in the Northern Command and were singing an altogether different tune in regards to defending Israel, should more pressure be needed and the current diplomacy track not produce REAL results..
Haaretz: Cabinet to meet over expansion of ground operations
Olmert met Monday with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and other senior military and Military Intelligence officials who presented him with their plan for taking control of areas used by Hezbollah to fire its short-range rockets.
Under the plan, the IDF will take control of the area south of the Litani
River. The military officials also presented Olmert with a plan for an operation north of the Litani, in the area of Ramat Nabatiyeh where rockets were launched into Kiryat Shmona. The operation in Ramat Nabatiyeh, however, is likely to be put off for a later stage if necessary.
Olmert gave the military the go-ahead to present the plan to the cabinet, but refrained from expressing his views on it. General Staff officers believe that the political leadership will approve an expansion of the ground offensive in the near future. Nevertheless, the officers are waiting to see how the new initiative by the Lebanese government to deploy 15,000 soldiers in the south will be welcomed.
Olmert said Monday that the Israel Defense Forces would have no limitations in the fight against rocket fire in the north, saying it was unacceptable that so many people were forced to exist in bomb shelters. "We have to stop the rockets," Olmert said during a visit to the Northern Command. "We cannot have a million residents living in shelters. On this matter, there will be no limitations on the army. This war has involved fatalities, which hurts and is traumatic. This we know, but at the moment we have to cope with it, both on the battlefield and the home front. I will give you every strength and support, we are not stopping [the fight]."
GOC Northern Command, Major General Udi Adam told reporters Monday that the military is prepared for an expansion of the ground operation in southern Lebanon. "We are ready for this, and the minute we get the signal we will move to reach the launch sites and end the Katyusha fire," he said. "The military leadership has plans, and I expect that there are other considerations," Adam said regarding a possible IDF advance across the Litani River, 20km inside southern Lebanon. "There is a readiness for such a move should the talks between the U.S., France and Lebanon fail." [...]
During the visit they met with dozens of IDF reservist officers and were presented with a number of military assessments. The prime minister's bureau, said that the officers asked Peretz and Olmert to step up the fight until the enemy had been defeated. The officers said that the soldiers' motivation is high and they are ready to fight to bring quiet to the home front. [...]
Who doesn't want to avoid bloodshed?
Sorry for the long block of text up there, but these things need to be clarified and thankfully Olmert & CO. did so today. Yes they are hoping for a diplomatic solution, banking on perhaps a resolution but the international will does not appear to be there, suggestions like UNIFIL show this clearly.
There is also the situation where 150+ rockets are smashing into Israel a day. Those rockets need to be taken out, either by military force or diplomacy, but simply having the 'cease firing' of those rockets is not a solution.
Balance of Power: The Day After
These rockets have been a massive deterrent, now they are flying & this is the one and only opportunity to alter the strategic picture in the region and with it the balance of power. If the Govt believes the diplomacy track at this stage maybe can bring about this result that is wonderful, but many questions remain and this fighting is still far from over. Israel's political will must match the will of the IDF and the public, watered down solutions are a great danger and this is indeed a pivotal time.
Declarations today that the Lebanese Cabinet is prepared to deploy its army to the south are a good start, however the conditions are simply not conducive to the disarming of Hezbollah. Half measures will not work & no other force will be able to subdue the rocket threat, only Israel. The State has had ample time, made gains, hurt Hezbollah enough that they want a cease fire – but on their terms which is the return to status quo.
Iran has no interest in seeing Israel advance to the Litani to subdue their proxy defanging it. That fact alone is a very strong impetus in my opinion to be skeptical & cynical regarding diplomacy at this stage which favors Iran & Hezbollah. Now is not the time to settle for less, would the public even allow it? It clearly would be a strategic error..
The diplomatic track
The manner in which this conflict has unrolled the past 25 days fairly demands this track at this point. The tactics employed have made gains but no one is under any illusions. Full Objectives have not been met and they do need to be met.. We are not seeing any big results in the diplomacy as it stands right now, perhaps that will change over the next 48 hours.
Israel is committed, finish it
Round one was not fully effective. I trust Olmert will be strong, he will need to continue leading the State of Israel because the pressure is only beginning. Olmert & Peretz may be exhausted, the IDF may have been fighting hard, but the real test is only now just starting.
I am not sold personally on the notion that the strategic picture has changed because it has not. Circumstances may dictate a pause in any expansion for diplomacy and continued weakening of Hezbollah, but we need to pray & support Israel now more than ever.