Ceasefire Plan Does Not Eliminate Hizbullah Threat

The draft ceasefire plan agreed to by the United States and France may result in an Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, but it will not disarm Hizbullah.

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Yechiel Spira, | updated: 05:36

It appears that United Nations efforts are concentrating on halting Israeli military operations throughout Lebanon, but no effort is being made to eliminate the Hizbullah threat. The draft agreement only calls for pushing Hizbullah north of the Litani, not far enough from Israel’s northern border to place Hizbullah rockets out of range from northern Israeli civilian population centers.

While the draft agreement supports UN Resolution 1559, demanding Hizbullah be disarmed by the Lebanese government, it does not make this a precondition to the implementation of the ceasefire.

The plan calls or the deployment of the current UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon, to be supported by some 10,000 French forces and 15,000 Lebanese army troops. Other countries may also send troops to take part in the force, which will be responsible to prevent Hizbullah attacks into Israel.

Lebanese authorities and Hizbullah are already signaling the plan is unacceptable since it does not demand an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, but permits a gradual withdrawal of forces over a month. In addition, Lebanese officials are calling the plan discriminatory, since it mentions the need to work towards the release of captive IDF soldiers while not making mention of the release of Lebanese soldiers.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz have put the next stage of the IDF anti-Hizbullah offensive in southern Lebanon on hold, realizing a stepped-up offensive at this time would compromise White House efforts to broker a ceasefire. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expressing cautious optimism, but has decided not to permit Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to travel to New York to address the Security Council, fearing such a move would increase pressure on Israel.

In 30 days, the agreement will seek more comprehensive ceasefire terms as well as formulating solutions towards the release of three IDF captive soldiers.

The agreement is being rejected by the IDF, with members of the General Staff expressing strong opposition, stating the plan prevents planned efforts towards reducing the Hizbullah threat. Military officials fear the implementation of the draft ceasefire will do nothing to disarm the terror organization.

Defense Minister Peretz in statements released in Jerusalem on Thursday stated that prior to advancing military operations; all diplomatic channels would be exhausted. The senior minister added that there are several points that must be included in any ceasefire plan, including the deployment of a multinational stabilization force in southern Lebanon, removing the threat of future Katyusha rocket attacks against Israel, disarming Hizbullah and setting in motion a plan towards the release of captive IDF soldiers.