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Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has told Italy that Israel will accept a truce when Lebanon returns the soldiers captured by Hezbollah and clears the terrorists away from their shared border. The offer came as Italy attempted to craft some sort of compromise that will allow the fighting to stop, according to the AP (via It Shines For All):
Israel would agree to a cease-fire in its six-day-old offensive against Hezbollah if the Lebanese guerrillas withdraw from the border area with Israel and release two captured Israeli soldiers, a senior official said Monday.
The official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomacy, said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had conveyed Israel's position to Italy's prime minister, who is trying to broker a cease-fire deal.
Israel had previously demanded the full dismantling of Hezbollah as a condition for ending hostilities. However, the senior official said Israel would agree to Hezbollah merely leaving the border area - with the Lebanese army taking its place.
That shows a little diplomatic flexibility on Israel's part, but one unlikely to bear fruit. The Lebanese Army could not take Southern Lebanon away from Hezbollah without disarming them. After all, the only reason Hezbollah has for retaining its arms is its argument that it alone can stand as a bulwark against the Israelis. That argument seems to be loser at the moment, of course, but it's the only logical rationalization that the group has.
If Lebanon moved Hezbollah away from the border, the group's political support would collapse. They would either have to take Beirut to keep alive, or they would find themselves driven out of Lebanese politics altogether. As it is, the Israeli butt-kicking coming from their unilateral provocation will likely cause heavy political damage anyway.
Armed terrorists do not willingly give up their weapons, especially not in a losing cause. The Lebanese Army does not have the muscle to disarm them. Therefore, the Israeli conditions cannot be met -- and they are the bare minimum that Israel can accept for the sake of its own security. The war will continue until Israel cuts off and crushes Hezbollah and finishes them as a provocative "military" force.Sphere It View blog reactions
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