The USA is not thrilled with Israel's Security Cabinet decision to OK the IDF request for more rope in the war on Hezbollah. As things stand, the operation is not a full green light and Olmert holds final say on any moves or duration of the IDF campaign should it initiate while Israel awaits news of any diplomatic progress.
During the very long Cabinet meeting which was approved by 9 Ministers, with three abstentions a 30 minute conversation was held with the White House. Tony Snow & State had the following to say (I'll try to link to the video, the Whitehouse website is not updated with today's statements just yet):
The White House said Wednesday that it opposes Israel's decision to escalate the violence in the Mideast by deciding to order ground troops deeper into Lebanon to attack Hezbollah targets.
Although White House press secretary Tony Snow said the message was for both sides, his remarks came as Israel's Security Cabinet voted to expand its war effort. The criticism was among the strongest the Bush administration has issued against Washington's long-time ally since the fighting began four weeks ago. "We are working hard now to bridge differences between the United States position and some of the positions of our allies," Snow told reporters gathered near President Bush's ranch, where he was vacationing. "We want an end to violence and we do not want escalations."
The United States earlier urged Israel to use the "utmost care" in avoiding civilian casualties after its government decided on Wednesday to expand its ground offensive in Lebanon. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack reiterated the U.S. stand that Israel had a right to defend itself from Hizbollah fighters in southern Lebanon but said the United States was very concerned about the humanitarian situation. "Israel must take the utmost care in avoiding civilian casualties," McCormack said.
McCormack said the United States, which has been accused of giving Israel a green light to continue attacking Lebanese targets, was working hard at the United Nations to come up with a resolution acceptable to all that would end the fighting. "We want to bring an end to the violence and get the diplomacy on track," said McCormack
Not much talk in those limited quotes about the targeting of Israeli cities with rockets. With a breakdown of the French / American position it is not clear how much of this is politics, and how much is full opposition. The facts remain so far it is not getting done on the diplomacy track and there is a constant erosion of the strong positions taken by the G8 initially in regards to the conflict. The French have sold the US out, caving to Arab pressure, it now remains to be seen how much Israel 'selling' the USA intends to do on Wall Street..
The politics are delicate, but nonetheless it is still a bit disheartening to see the White House have to temper solid principles, strategic goals, and values in the War on Terror to placate World opinion (Well, French led EU / Arab opinion). The current proposals of UNIFIL troops, the embrace by Nasrallah of Lebanese troops deploying in the south (JPOST) spell a diplomatic victory for the bad guys if the chips fall as they are now.
Hezbollah & French Games
With Lebanon's Army consisting of mainly Muslim Shia men, who happen to share Hezbollah's positions it is no wonder Hezbollah is eager to see them line up in the South. As far as Hezbollah is concerned this is convenient cover for them, a sympathetic force that supports them and will allow them to dig in while shielding Hezbollah from Israel & the international community..
Meanwhile Nasrallah warned Arab residents of Haifa to leave the city so he could kill more civilians..
"I have a special message to the Arabs of Haifa, to your martyrs and to your wounded. I call you to leave this city. I hope you do this. … Please leave so we don't shed your blood, which is our blood." The cleric also rejected a proposed international peacekeeping force for the region, saying it was not clear from whom they would be taking orders. "This (the Lebanese army deployment) is the better and more convenient alternative than deployment of international troops. We don't know whose orders they will be taking," he said. [...]
In other words, we can't control an international force, but Lebanon's Army will take orders from us. If this sham passes muster in the UN it will be a disaster for the free world, worse than the status quo that the White House has ADAMANTLY maintained is & will not be acceptable.
I watched during coverage the French Ambassador to the UN break into a hard to hide smile when he announced that the French position had changed in front of the press, he took obvious pleasure in deceiving the USA last week. Nothing with France has changed.