Thursday, August 10, 2006

Split in Israeli politics on the war?

Heretofore, media have reported near unanimity among Israeli political factions about prosecuting the war, with some polls showing up to 90 percent of Israeli adults supporting it.

Now a fissure, however small has appeared.

The political left in Israel slammed the Wednesday afternoon cabinet decision to widen the military ground offensive in Lebanon.

Meretz MK Ran Cohen called the move "unfortunate and dangerous." He said continued operations will "increase the large number of victims and will not solve the problem."

Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On added the decision "will distance the chances of a cease-fire and of quiet in the northern communities."

Meretz Chairman MK Yossi Beilin said the cabinet "made a tragic mistake that is liable to unnecessary lengthen the war? Rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to leave Lebanon and let its army deploy in the south, Israel is entering deeper into Hezbollah's trap on the verge of a war of attrition on the ground."

Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh said the cabinet decision is "insanity testifying to military arrogance." He said Israel was closing the window of opportunity that was opened by the Lebanese government.

The "window of opportunity" referred to was the Lebanese government's call for a ceasefire after Israel withdraws from Lebanon, to be followed by the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese national troops to southern Lebanon. As I explained in my Aug. 4. post, "Why did Israel attack Lebanon?" even Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud has said bluntly that the Lebanese army "is not an army to fight a war." Furthermore, the Lebanese government has never referred to Hezbollah as a "militia," since that would recognize that UN Resolution 1559, calling for all Lebanese militias to disarm, applies to Hezbollah. This the Lebanese government denies, always characterizing Hezbollah as a Lebanese "resistance movement."

Between 40-50 percent of the Lebanese army consists of members of Hezbollah, which is a political party inside Lebanon as well as a militia. To expect that any number of Lebanese army troops in southern Lebanon will control Hezbollah's well trained, well equipped and highly disciplined fighters is simple fantasy. Here's a brief synopsis why.

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