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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Diplomats: 48-72 hour window

Israeli diplomats believe that the IDF has a 48-72 hour window to damage Hezbullah's war making capabilities before a cease fire is imposed. The assessment comes with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, as well as a high-level United Nations delegation dispatched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, expected in Jerusalem on Sunday.

In addition, diplomats are keeping a close watch on statements coming out of the G-8 summit meeting taking place this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia. Al-AP is reporting that the eight leaders attending the summit are having difficulty finding consensus:

Putin said ''maximum efforts must be applied to resolve the situation in a peaceful way'' in Lebanon. He also said he thought Israel was after more than just the return of its two soldiers, but he did not elaborate.

The G-8 countries -- the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada -- were expected to issue a joint declaration on the Middle East.

However the document's drafters were struggling to deal with sharp differences between the United States and the other countries over how to proceed. The United States is pressing for a statement that identifies Hezbollah militants as the main culprit and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a democratic Lebanon.

But Italian Premier Romano Prodi [It's a pity that he's in there instead of Belusconi CiJ] expressed caution on a joint statement. ''We are still in the phase where we are exposing our positions, not in a negotiating phase,'' he said.

Bush said Israel has a right to defend itself. ''The best way to stop the violence is for Hezbollah to lay down its arms and to stop attacking,'' he said.

Earlier Saturday, Putin and other leaders criticized what they see as an overreaction by Israel that has caused dozens of civilian deaths and risked a major escalation of bloodshed in the Middle East.

''We understand the right of Israel to defend itself, of course, and we understand there were provocations against Israel but we believe the use of force by Israel was disproportionate,'' Prodi told reporters.

French President Jacques Chirac was even harsher in his comments, saying ''One could ask if today there is not sort of a will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communications.''

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he understood Israel's anger but urged against seeking ''an eye for an eye.''

Putin said it was unacceptable for Hezbollah to try to achieve its goals using force and abductions, but he also was critical of Israel's military response.

''The use of force should be balanced. And, in any case, bloodshed should stop as soon as possible,'' he said.

Despite the differences, he expressed optimism that the leaders would find common ground.

Two points on this one: First, kudos to President Bush (and also to British Prime Minister Blair, who refused to condemn Israel on Friday), who is standing up for Israel. Second, although we have to be disappointed with all the 'disproportionate' comments, it's a change to see all these 'world leaders' admit that Israel has a right to defend itself. What do they expect us to do? Sit and negotiate with Hezbullah?

Now, let's get back to that 48-72 hour window. This is from the Jerusalem Post:

Although many statements coming from foreign ministries around the world called for Israeli restraint and for the use of proportionate force, Foreign Ministry officials said that this was all within the framework of "agreed upon language that the EU is recycling - old formulas of restraint from both sides, and ideas of moral equivalency. But if you look at the basic components of the statements, Israel's main interests are being preserved - calls for Lebanon to implement Security Council Resolution 1559, and the release of the soldiers."

In addition, senior diplomatic officials said a significant anti-Hizbullah line has emerged in the Arab world that goes beyond Egypt and Jordan, and that there was anger at Hizbullah for destabilizing the region and plunging it into a crisis without any coordination with the Arab world. [Note - it would have been okay for Hezbullah to attack Israel, if only they coordinated it first! CiJ]

Sharp rifts among Arab foreign ministers appeared at an emergency meeting in Cairo, with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal calling Hizbullah's actions "unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible," and said they have set the whole region back years, "and we cannot simply accept them."

This position was reportedly accepted by representatives of Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

Maybe this will sow a little chaos among the Arabs.

4 Comments:

At 2:14 AM, Blogger stefania said...

Solidarity from Italy. Despite the gov't we have (it's not mine, because I didn't vote it), half of the Italians who voted for Berlusconi are ashamed by the statements of the gov't.

Solidarity to all of you in Israel.
Israel will prevail.

 
At 2:19 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Thanks stefania.

 
At 3:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Putin is an arse-wipe hypocrit. He wouldn't hesitate to use force in Russia and tell the UN to go jump. Now all we need is the other supporter of human rights in the UN China to add to Putin's comments.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Clyde said...

"...a cease-fire being imposed"? Um, who exactly is going to impose a cease-fire on Israel? Those same elite blue-helmeted U.N. troops that have stopped Iran and North Korea in their nuclear tracks? Ha! Look up "feckless" in the dictionary and you'll see the U.N. logo right next to it.

I think the diplomat was blowing smoke out his nethers...

 

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