The Jerusalem Post reported today that Kofi Annan is expected to recommend that the enlarged UNIFIL forces that will deploy in Lebanon will be given rules of engagement that permit opening fire on Hezbollah. This, I am assuming, comes as result of the extreme reluctance of European nations to take part in UNIFIL because of a vagueness in the mandate. (We can safely assume, I think, that the Muslim nations of Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh were less eager to fire on Hezbollah in any event.) Israel has been pushing for empowering UNIFIL this way.
— According to an Al Jazeera website: “The Lebanese government, in an unprecedented move, has warned Hezbollah against violating the UN-brokered truce. In an implicit warning to the militia, Elias Murr, Lebanon’s defense minister, said on Sunday that anyone who violated a cease-fire deal by firing rockets into Israel from Lebanon would be arrested and tried by a military court.”
— Bush is calling for speedy deployment of the international force.
— In line with this, Italy’s Prime Minister Romano Prodi has told United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan that Italy is prepared to lead a UN Force in southern Lebanon, in place of a very reluctant France.
— Additionally, I now read that the Israeli Navy may blockade Lebanon for months, until that multinational force is fully in place, so that weapons cannot be smuggled to Hezbollah by sea.
It is also very good news that Moshe (“Bogie”) Ya’alon is returning home. He’ll be here on Thursday and is joining the Shalem Center, a right wing think tank here in Jerusalem, after time spent at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs. Lt. General (ret.) Ya’alon was relieved of his position as IDF Chief of Staff for speaking out on the dangers of the “disengagement.” He is a man of clarity of vision, and integrity.
Declared Ya’alon: “I am going back now but I don’t want to speak politics. I am ready to speak substance, not to speak about this party or that party, but to speak out my mind.” For him to speak out is fantastic. He says things like this:
“We in Israel prefer to deceive ourselves, to delude ourselves, to believe that by appeasement, by giving up territories, we will reach peace and tranquility. And we ignore the fact that on the other side in what is called the Palestinian Authority there was no, and there is no, leadership ready to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish independent state.”
He gives every indication of intention to head into politics eventually, even though he has not yet officially affiliated with a particular party. Last week he gave an address for the right-wing Americans for a Safe Israel on the anniversary of the death of Jabotinsky. As Jabotinsky is an ideological founder of Likud, some are reading this as the first step in moving towards that party.
Bogie Ya’alon brings hope with him as he returns home. We are in need of a man with prestige and integrity who can help set things straight.
US and Israeli Intelligence picked up information about an Iranian plane taking off, which was due to cross Turkish air space, and which was carrying military equipment meant for Hezbollah. Turkish officials were alerted and shortly thereafter the planes returned to Iran and, according to Turkish sources, unloaded their cargo. Apparently Turkey has already intercepted several Iranian and Syrian ships in the Mediterranean that were carrying weaponry intended for Hezbollah.
According to the Arab daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat in London today, large amounts of rockets have been transferred from Iran to Syrian, with intent to rearm Hezbollah.
Barry Rubin offers some important thinking today as he examines the effect of the war on the Arab world:
There is one way, he says, in which Israel’s deterrence power has actually been enhanced: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., looking at the degree of damage Israel inflicted in Lebanon (without even using its full force), will be disinclined to take on Israel directly in war.
However, deterrence has been diminished with regard to state sponsorship of terrorism and attacking Israel from someone else’s territory. This means Syrian and Iranian promotion of the PLO and Hamas. The Syrians and Iranians are mindful of the fact that they escaped without repercussions from the war that their proxy Hezbollah waged. Says Rubin, “the number one danger to Israeli security emerging from this crisis would be… the large-scale arming of Hamas by Iran and Syria with rockets, advanced anti-tank weapons, and high-quality explosives. There is a real chance that the Lebanon northern front will be quiet for some years but no chance at all for a similar development on the Palestinian southern or eastern fronts…
“This resurgence of what might be called “evil hope” has set back any chance for Arab-Israeli peace… for a generation… Why compromise if you believe you can achieve total victory, revolution, and wipe Israel off the map with armed struggle and the manipulation of Western opinion?
“What is both sad and shocking is that few people outside the Middle East understand the devastating defeat suffered for progress due to the international position of, at best, neutrality in the war, and the consequent failure to help Israel, moderate Arab states, and freedom-loving Lebanese. As always in the Middle East, these mistakes will come back to haunt the globe for a long time to come.”
This, most decidedly, is not good news. But makes it all the more imperative that our nation come to its senses and begin to draw on clear-eyed and strong leaders.
See my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info