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Friday, September 08, 2006

Olmert fools himself again

In a meeting tonight with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Ehud Olmert showed how little he understands of the resolution to which his English-and-diplomacy deficient foreign minister Tzipi Livni agreed in the UN. During his meeting with Lavrov, Olmert said the following:
Until the kidnapped soldiers are released, there will not be full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701. Israel is implementing its side of the resolution, and thus, Lebanon must do the same and release the two kidnapped soldiers immediately.
There are two problems with Olmert's formulation. First, it's not Lebanon that is holding the soldiers but Hezbullah, and Hezbullah doesn't regard itself as being bound by UN Security Council resolution 1701. It's not a state, not a UN member, and the resolution was not addressed to it. Second, UN Security Council resolution 1701 would not require Lebanon to release Regev and Goldwasser (the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers) even if it held them. The only time Regev and Goldwasser are mentioned is in Preparatory Paragraph 3, and that paragraph is not part of the substantive resolution. In my comments on the resolution on August 12, I noted the following:
PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers, [Note that this is in the Preparatory Paragraphs and not in the Operational ones. It doesn't mean anything. We have two more Ron Arad's. CiJ]
This evening, Olmert put only one of the final two nails into Regev's and Goldwasser's coffins: He lifted the aerial blockade on Lebanon, but left the naval blockade intact "because the international force was not yet in a position to enforce the arms embargo to Hizbullah." So if Hezbullah wants to move Goldwasser and Regev to - for example - Iran, they will have to fly them out of Lebanon or move them overland and cannot put them on a boat. The bottom line is that if (and it's a big if) they are still alive, Olmert pretty much signed their death warrants this evening. By lifting the blockades on Lebanon, he is giving up the last bit of (admittedly flimsy) leverage he had to win their release.
Senior government officials said that Israel agreed on Wednesday to lift the blockade because United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the international force would be ready to enforce the arms embargo.

"We were ready, the UN wasn't," the officials said. The officials said that it would likely be another 48-hours before a naval force made up of French, Italian, Greek and British troops off the shore of Lebanon could enforce the embargo, and the sea blockade could be lifted.
Since when does Israel do things on Kofi Goofy Annan's say-so? The embargo should not have been lifted without the two soldiers' release. And of course, Olmert "called Thursday for a speedy deployment of United Nations naval forces to Lebanese waters, and said he hopes their quick arrival would allow Israel to lift its sea blockade. " But of course.

Olmert may not recognize what he did to Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev this evening, but the families sure do:
A few hours before the aerial blockade was lifted at 6 pm, the families of abducted soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and urged him not to lift the siege, which they said should be used as leverage to bring about the release of the two.

Olmert turned down their request. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said that Israel was committed to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, and that the resolution called for lifting the blockade.

The official said that Olmert made it clear since the cease fire went into effect that Israel would lift the aerial and sea blockade of Lebanon once the international force was in place to implement the embargo. The officials stressed that Olmert never conditioned this on the release of the two captives.

Likewise, the official said, Israel has said it would withdraw its forces from southern Lebanon when an international force of 5,000 troops was deployed there. The official said that this was expected "within a few days to a week."
Meanwhile, Olmert's daughter Dana volunteers for Machsom Watch and calls Chief of Staff Dan Halutz a murderer, his son Shaul, an adherent of Yesh Gvul (which advocates refusing military assignments beyond the green line) lives in New York, and his son Ariel, who never served in the IDF, lives in Paris. And you wonder why he doesn't care about a couple of missing soldiers?


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