The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.Of course, they're full of shit. I'm amazed Drudge has been headlining with this crappy story all day! In reality, the Israelis plan to be there for as long as it takes. Anyone who's seen or heard Olmert's amazing speech to the Knesset knows this. You don't give speeches like a Churchill and then weasel and simper like a Chamberlain.
The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.
"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.
Israel declared Tuesday it was ready to fight Hezbollah guerrillas for several more weeks, raising doubts about international efforts to broker an immediate cease-fire in the fighting that has killed more than 260 people and displaced 500,000. The military said early Wednesday it sent some troops into southern Lebanon in search of tunnels and weapons.Iran Losing Touch? This is an interesting read at a Die Welt blog.
Despite the diplomatic activity, Israel is in no hurry to end its offensive, which it sees as a unique opportunity to crush Hezbollah. The Islamic militants appear to have steadily built up their military strength after Israel pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in 2000.
Israeli warplanes struck an army base outside Beirut and other areas in south Lebanon on Tuesday, killing 27 people, and Hezbollah rockets battered Israeli towns, killing one Israeli. Five big explosions reverberated over Beirut early Wednesday, and missiles hit towns to the east and south of the capital.
At daybreak Wednesday, a small number of Israeli troops were operating just across the border inside southern Lebanon, looking for tunnels and weapons, the Israeli military said without providing any more details.
The incursion came a day after Israel indicated that it might send large numbers of ground troops into the southern Lebanon, but Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman denied Wednesday's operation was part of any such operation.
"What is going on at the moment is a number of Israeli ground troops very near to the border on the Lebanese side, trying to destroy some Hezbollah outposts," he told CNN.
"This is an operation which is very measured, very local," he said. "This is no way an invasion of Lebanon. This is no way the beginning of any kind of occupation of Lebanon."
Government leaders and spokespersons have made much of a statement by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at a weekend meeting of the Arab League when he labeled Hezbollah's actions in capturing two Israeli soldiers as 'unexpected, inappropriate, and irresponsible acts.' Many interpreted his remarks as lending support to Israel's stand, and putting the blame on Hezbollah.
The Kingdom however Tuesday issued a strongly worded statement, following a meeting of the full Council of Ministers (Cabinet), putting the blame squarely on Israel, and describing its response to the soldiers' capture as a 'massive destructive war.'
Saudi Arabia says it holds the international community, 'particularly the influential big countries with economic interests in the region,' responsible for ending the war, 'launched by Israel against Lebanon,' and for lifting the siege around the Palestinian people and their, 'legitimate institutions.'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, “The day of happiness for the region is near… The world is on the verge of great changes,” according to the Iranian news agency.
Ahmadinejad added that he considered Israel’s operation in Lebanon “a type of playing with fire.” (Dudi Cohen)
"Frankly," Gingrich said, "the Israelis have every right to insist that every single missile leave south Lebanon, and the United States ought to be helping the Lebanese government have the strength to eliminate Hizbullah as a military force."And finally, some perspective:
In response to calls for a more "proportionate" Israeli response to Hizbullah and Hamas, an Israel Radio correspondent in Washington quoted observers who said that such a response would have to include indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, just as both terrorist groups have done. Israel should therefore be commended for not acting "proportionately," the observers say.