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August 2, 2006
No Retirees Or Tourists: Olmert

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made clear that the war in Lebanon could be over in days, but only under conditions that ensure security for Israel on its northern border. With the UN debating various types of peacekeeping forces to replace Israel in Lebanon, Olmert insists that Israel would not accept another UNIFIL disaster:

In an interview with The Times in Jerusalem, the Israeli Prime Minister, said that the conflict could be over as soon as the United Nations Security Council authorised an international force and the troops were in place.

As he set out his vision for peace, the fighting intensified with 10,000 Israeli soldiers battling against Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. The Shia Muslim militant group fired a record number of 213 rockets into Israel, with some penetrating the West Bank, the farthest that they have reached.

Nevertheless, Mr Olmert seemed confident that the fighting could be stopped within days. “I do not think that it will take weeks,” he said. “I think that a resolution will be made some time next week by the UN Security Council and then it depends on the rapidity of deployment of the international forces into the south of Lebanon.” ...

He also said that Israel would not welcome a unit similar to the existing UN Interim Force In Lebanon (Unifil), which he said had proved ineffective in halting Hezbollah’s seizure of southern Lebanon.

“It has to be made up of armies, not of retirees, of real soldiers, not of pensioners who have come to spend leisurely months in south Lebanon but, rather, an army with combat units that is prepared to implement the UN resolution.”

He added: “We will not pull out and we will not stop shooting until there is an international force that will effectively control the area.”

Well put. UNIFIL proved not just completely ineffective in keeping peace but actually turned out to inadvertently promote war on the Blue Line. Undermanned and poorly led, the UN force stood by while terrorists built offensive positions adjacent to their own and did nothing when they launched attacks on northern Israel. The UN has demonstrated complete disregard for Israeli security, and no one believes that the UN has their safety in mind with their demands for a cease-fire.

Olmert gets the formulation humorously correct. UNIFIL turned out to be bystanders and tourists, not a fighting force, and only a fighting force can keep Hezbollah away from Israel. Israel doesn't need more of the same to supposedly defend a DMZ above their border. Anything less than a real fighting force with a mandate to commit violence against Hezbollah incursions will be worse than nothing, because Israel would have to fight past them in order to defend themselves once again when Hezbollah attacks Israel in the future.

Will the UN agree? Probably not, but the Israeli position will allow them more time to do the job themselves.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 2, 2006 10:14 PM

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