CEASEFIRE….As I write this, the ceasefire in Lebanon has just gone into effect. CNN reports that it’s holding at the moment, but will it still be in place by the time I wake up tomorrow morning? Wait and see.
At the moment, though, Haaretz is reporting that the IDF wants to leave Lebanon relatively rapidly:
The army is recommending that once the cease-fire takes effect, Israel should begin withdrawing its forces from Lebanon relatively quickly.
The intention is for the forces to move back to a line north of the border with Lebanon within about 10 days, or as soon as the Lebanese Army is ready to begin entering South Lebanon. This means that the IDF will not be conducting searches for Hezbollah fighters or arms caches in the areas that it has captured over the last few days, which the army defined as “the heart of the operational campaign” against Hezbollah.
Once the Lebanese Army is fully deployed in the south, together with a beefed-up UNIFIL force, the IDF troops will withdraw completely.
There is little chance that this withdrawal can be pulled off without incident, but Israel would be wise to stick to their plan regardless. They’ve made their point, they’ve significantly damaged Hezbollah’s infrastructure, and the last thing they need now is to get stuck in southern Lebanon again.
Needless to say, Hezbollah would be wise to abide by the ceasefire too. They’ve also made their point, their organization is intact, and they remain a political force within Lebanon. The last thing they need is to give Israel an excuse to stay behind.
Here’s hoping that both sides can exercise restraint. Here’s hoping the Lebanese cabinet can get its act together. Here’s hoping the French-led peacekeeping force can actually keep the peace ? and it’s too bad the United States has no troops to contribute to this effort, isn’t it?
Here’s hoping. But wisdom is not an abundant quality on the ground in the Middle East, is it?