Perhaps a Glimmer of Two Lights at the End of a Long Tunnel!

Perhaps the Glimmer of Two Lights at the End of a Long Dark Tunnel!

July 23, 2006

The excerpts from two articles from Haaretz, which follow, are the first glimmer of lights that

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the current crisis is drifting toward a temporary solution.

Begin Excerpt from Haaretz Article Number 1

Peretz: Israel supports deployment of multi-national force in Lebanon

By Aluf Benn, Amos Harel and Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondents, and the AP

July 23, 2006

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Sunday that Israel would agree to the deployment of a multi-national force in Lebanon, and suggested that NATO troops be deployed to lead such a force.

“Israel’s goal is to see the Lebanese army deployed along the border with Israel, but we understand that we are talking about a weak army and that in the midterm period Israel will have to accept a multinational force,” he said, according to his office.

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Following a morning meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Peretz also said the force should act to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Syria into Lebanon. Peretz also noted Israel has no intention of entering into a war with Syria.

The defense minister said the key to solving the current crisis is the release of the two IDF soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah on July 12.

Steinmeier was involved in efforts to secure a deal between Israel and Hezbollah in 2004 leading to the return of an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three IDF soldiers kidnapped and killed by Hezbollah in 2000.

The German press reported Friday that an agreement was made with the Russian foreign minister that the two countries intelligence agencies would act to secure a deal in the region.

Peretz also told Steinmeier the 12-day-old offensive in Lebanon would continue as Israel tries to push Hezbollah guerrillas away from the border.

“We are continuing with the operation, and the goal is to create a situation in which we have as broad a space for diplomatic movement as possible,” Peretz said. “The goals we set for ourselves will be achieved.”

The meeting between Steinmeier and Peretz was one of a series of diplomatic meetings here Sunday aimed at ending the offensive in Lebanon.

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French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy was also scheduled to meet with government officials and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was headed to the region as well.

Peretz alter told a meeting of the Knes set Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the defense establishment has not exceeded the boundaries

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set by the political level during

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the course of the Lebanon campaign.

He also noted that Hezbollah fired has some 2,200 rockets at Israel, about half of which have hit northern Israeli cities and towns.

On Saturday, Peretz instructed the IDF to continue pressuring Hezbollah to weaken its military and especially rocket deployment. This would enable Israel to achieve a better political agreement that would lead to ending the offensive.

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IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said the military needs weeks to achieve the operation’s goals. “We need time.

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I don’t want to set a date, but we’re trying to shorten the operation and still achieve our goals,” he said.

Halutz admitted the IDF would not be able to “bring the rocket fire to a complete stop.

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There will always be some terrorist to fire a missile.

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But I believe we’ll be able to push them north and reduce the accuracy of their fire. The other side must reach the conclusion that the price it pays for continuing the fire is intolerable.”

Speaking about the visits of American and European foreign ministers in the area and their influence on the continuation of the operation, Halutz said: “The foreign ministers do not determine our time limit. The Israeli government does that.”

Peretz approved the mobilization of 4,600 additional reserve soldiers over the weekend. So far the IDF has mobilized about 18,000 soldiers – about half the reserve soldiers called up in Operation Defensive Shield in the territories, in April 2002.

However, a large number of the infantry forces called up are sent to the territories to replace regular forces that are being sent north.

To the IDF’s disappointment, the government rejected the proposal to mobilize an entire division of reserve soldiers to join the fighting in Lebanon.

Northern Command sources said the media reports distort the real situation, in which the IDF has the upper hand in the clashes with Hezbollah. However, initial details of the incident last Friday, in which five IDF soldiers were killed, indicates problems in planning the force’s route.

End Excerpts from Haaretz Article Number 1

Latest Rumor – Another Week of Israeli Assault on Hizbollah!

July 23, 2006

Begin Excerpts from Haaretz Article Number 2

Senior officials believe U.S. will give Israel a week to complete military offensive in Lebanon

By Aluf Benn, Shmuel Rosner and Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

July 23, 2006

On the eve of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Jerusalem, senior officials believe Israel has an American nod to continue operations against Hezbollah at least until next Sunday.

Rice will first explore ways with Israel’s leadership to end the crisis and begin to shape a new order in Lebanon. She will return next Sund ay to try to implement

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a cease-fire.

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From Jerusalem, Rice will go on to Rome to meet senior delegates from the United Nations and Arab states. They will discuss formulating a political arrangement and a plan to rehabilitate Lebanon.

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From Rome she will travel to an Asian conference in Malaysia, from where she will return to Israel.

Rice’s trip has two main goals: an attempt to formulate an agreement to end the fighting in Lebanon and sending a strong international force to enforce Security Council Resolution 1559 calling to disarm Hazbollah and deploy the Lebanese Army along the Israeli border.

The United States will urge Middle East leaders to help boost pressure on Hezbollah as a means of solving the crisis in southern Lebanon, President George W. Bush said on Saturday.

The Bush administration has rejected calls for an immediate cease-fire and Rice said she would focus instead on finding a sustainable end to the violence.

Previewing Rice’s trip in his weekly radio address, Bush said she would “make it clear that resolving the crisis demands confronting the terrorist group that launched the attacks and the nations that support it.”

Bush cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing help to Hezbollah.

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“Their actions threaten the entire Middle East and stand in the way of resolving the current crisis and bringing lasting peace to this troubled region,” said Bush, who is spending the weekend at his Crawford ranch.

On Saturday, Bush called Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the humanitarian needs of the Lebanese people and Rice’s trip to the region, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Bush stood by his stance that Israel had a right to act in its own defense.

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The Bush administration has expressed worries the conflict might weaken the fragile government in Lebanon led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

While reiterating his support for the Lebanese government, Bush laid blame for the problems squarely on Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah’s practice of hiding rockets in civilian neighborhoods, and its efforts to undermine the democratically elected government have shown it to be no friend of Lebanon,” he said. “By its actions, Hezbollah has jeopardized Lebanon’s tremendous advances and betrayed the Lebanese people.”

End Excerpts from Haaretz Article Number 2

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