So it appears that Israel has called Hezbollah's bluff by accepting the cease fire deal given by the UN:
A critical Lebanese Cabinet meeting set for Sunday to discuss implementation of the cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah was postponed, a move that was likely to delay the dispatch of the Lebanese army to the south and an end of the fighting.
A top aide to Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said the meeting had been indefinitely postponed but would give no reason. Published reports said the Cabinet, which approved the cease-fire unanimously Saturday night, had been sharply divided over demands in the cease-fire agreement that Hizbullah surrender its weapons in south Lebanon.
That disagreement was believed to have caused the postponement of the Sunday meeting that was to have taken up the dispatch of some 15,000 troops to the south.
I'm sure, judging from the quick acceptance by Hezbollah of this resolution, that they believed they would accept the cease fire, Israel would not. Then they could say to the world that they tried by the evil Jews don't want peace.
What did Condi say recently about this agreement again?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first of all, let me say that it's important that we vote the resolution in the Security Council, and we expect that to happen in the next day or two. And at that point, the international community will have put forward its views of how this war can abate, and then we'll see who is for peace and who isn't. The world is really watching now to see. Everyone has been talking about a cease-fire, an immediate cease-fire. I think even Hezbollah has from time to time talked about an immediate cease- fire.
I guess we are finding out the terrorists don't want peace. Surprised?
On the cease fire agreement itself the Jerusalem Post has an editorial that basically states its a good deal for Israel:
On July 19, a week after the war against Hizbullah began, the security cabinet defined the goals of the campaign as bringing about the release of the captured IDF soldiers, stopping Hizbullah rocket fire on the North, and advancing the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.
The parts of 1559 underlined in the decision were: the dismantling of all armed militias in Lebanon, including Hizbullah; the extension of Lebanon's sovereignty throughout the country; and the deployment of the Lebanese army along Israel's northern border.
Judged by these parameters, the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution could be seen as an achievement for Israel, if the relevant clauses are implemented. It could create a different reality in Lebanese.
The resolution does, as the security cabinet resolution spelled out, call for the unconditional release of the captured soldiers, and does not link that with the release of two Lebanese prisoners, including the terrorist Samir Kuntar, in Israeli jails; it does call for an end to Hizbullah attacks on Israel; and does reiterate implementation of 1559.
It goes even further, and establishes an enhanced UNIFIL force to help the Lebanese army clear a buffer zone from the northern border to the Litani River, and calls for an embargo – something not mentioned in the security cabinet decision – on rearming Hizbullah. It also calls for the deployment of the Lebanese army, with the assistance of UNIFIL, on the border with Syria to keep Hizbullah from being rearmed.
On paper, it looks good, but the key will be in its implementation. Will the international community ensure that this resolution, unlike 1559, is implemented? One major problem is the reliance, yet again, on UNIFIL. Granted, it's an enhanced UNIFIL, but this is an organization with which Israel has had a very rocky relationship in the past.
As always it will be in the implementation of the cease fire, and that my friends is what the UN has always sucked at. No way this deal works for any amount of time, if it even gets started since Hezbollah has now blinked.
Ed Morrissey agrees:
Does anyone not believe that this crisis has been precipitated by Hezbollah's refusal to leave southern Lebanon and disarm? The cease-fire proposal put the onus on them to cease their attacks on Israel and to dismantle their military wing. I warned earlier that such a requirement would eliminate the need for Hezbollah at all; their entire raison d'etre for the Lebanese people has been as a shield against the Israelis. If the Lebanese Army took that function away from them, they just become another terrorist militia, a construct of which the Lebanese have rightly tired.
Nasrallah knew this. He signaled his approval yesterday of the cease-fire but objected to the arms embargo and the disarming of his organization. Perhaps he thought the Israelis would reject it, but when the Israeli Cabinet adopted it unanimously, it looks like Nasrallah had his bluff called.
Jeff at Protein Wisdom brings his usual wisdom to the table:
In an update to my post yesterday I allowed for this possibility as it occured to me (after my initial knee-jerk fury) that Bush had used a similar tactic with respect to Iraq-namely, that he gave Hussein a last, public, and internationally-monitored chance to prove he'd disarmed, knowing (most likely) that Saddam would call the bluff and rely upon the caterwauling and disapproval of a couple of bought-off UN Security Council member countries to prevent an invasion.
So it's possible that his administration has orchestrated, along witih Olmert, the same kind of plan here-knowing, as nearly everyone must, that Hizballah will refuse to disarm.
What I hadn't counted on, however, was Nasrallah's refusal to stop fighting long enough to get resupplied. Because now should he not, Israel will have international cover-and it will be a solid cover, as the US and Israel both capitulated to a much softer agreement than they came out for initially.
Which puts Israel (and the US) in the driver's seat so long as the gamble pays off and Hizballah interprets the cease fire as a sign of weakness, and if-and this is the important bit-1) Olmert really isn't the dithering feckless appeasenik he's being portrayed as, or 2) the Israeli government is about to topple.
As Geezer points out, however, the unanimous multi-party vote-along with other signals (the confusion at Stratfor, Bush's steady commitment to the fight against terrorism despite enormous political pressures; the fact that the cease fire agreement makes no sense for Israel, and would quite obviously weaken it)-suggests that something bigger is afoot here.
At least, that's the conclusion I'm leaning toward now.
No one should ever underestimate Israel, they know how to survive and win.
In a somewhat unrelated note, Iran's President now has a blog.
Iran's president has launched a Web log, using his first entry to recount his poor upbringing and ask visitors to the site if they think the United States and Israel want to start a new world war.[…]Analyst Saeed Laylaz said the site — available in Persian, Arabic, English and French at www.ahmadinejad.ir — may be seeking to win support from abroad.
"Do you think that the U.S. and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another world war?" the president asks visitors to the site, offering them the choice to vote 'yes' or 'no'.
UPDATE III 1100hrs PST
Lebanon has already started the spin:
Lebanon's Foreign Minister, Fauzi Saluh, has criticized his government's approval of Security Council Resolution 1701, calling it "unbalanced."
In an interview on a Hizbullah radio station, A-Nur, Saluh said the resolution does not call for an immediate ceasefire and accused Israel of continuing aggression "on land, sea, and air."
He accused the UN of giving Israel additional time to execute "crimes against the Lebanese people" by not setting a specific time for implementing the ceasefire resolution.
UPDATE IV 1145hrs PST
The IDF is signalling that they will cease fire on Monday morning:
Senior IDF officer says troops to silence guns at 7 a.m. Monday, thus ending naval, land blockade on Lebanon; Land Forces Commander: In war there is painful price, but there are also many accomplishments
The IDF is preparing for a new reality on the northern border and in southern Lebanon . A senior IDF officer said that at 7 a.m. Monday IDF soldiers will silence their guns, and the naval and land blockade on Lebanon will end.
The IDF will work only to defend the safety of soldiers, and any attempt to harm them will be met with fire through all available means.
[…]Land Forces Commander Major General Benny Gantz said Monday evening in a press conference: "We are ready to respect the ceasefire and we hope the other side respects it. The IDF will respect the ceasefire, but will defend its forces, and if fire is renewed, it will act."
Not sure if this will still be the case if Lebanon continues postponing their discussions on the cease fire.
UPDATE 1445hrs PST
As I thought, the Israeli's have changed their minds about lifting their fire:
The IDF won't lift the aerial and naval blockade on Lebanon Monday morning.
IDF sources explained that the blockades will only be lifted after a body to monitor the naval and aerial passages is set up in Lebanon, in accordance with UN Resolution 1701.
UPDATE V 2030hrs PST
Quite a bit of new updates since my last one. First there is this report of Syrian tanks massing on the border:
On Sunday FNC reports that according to its sources, Syrian tanks are building up along the Israel-Syrian border. At this juncture, the Syrians' intentions are said to be unclear.
Then this report from DEBKAfile (take it for what it's worth)
Rice calls Lebanese PM to warn him that if the UN Lebanon resolution is not implemented, "We will not be responsible for the consequences"
Plus they report that Iran ordered Hezbollah to not abide by the cease fire:
Hamadi information minister, a Druze, said Sunday night that Nasrallah had broken his word to order Hizballah fighters south of the Litani to hand in their weapons to allow Lebanese army troops to be deployed there. DEBKAfile reports: Amid heavy fighting across the entire Lebanese front, Israeli field commanders await directives for Monday 0800 hours when the ceasefire deadline goes into force.
Lebanon front commander Maj-Gen Benny Gantz said Sunday night the IDF will honor the ceasefire but also defend its troops and Israeli civilians. DEBKAfile asks: Have they been told to hold their fire in line with Israel's acceptance of the UN resolution 1701 now that the Lebanese government and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah have backtracked?
DEBKAfile has learned that Tehran has meanwhile ordered Nasrallah to keep Israel engaged in combat for another 3 to 4. As a result of which he suddenly backed away from his pledges to France and the Siniora government Saturday to accept a ceasefire and a UNIFIL force in south Lebanon.
Nasrallah said he would wait a month to see how Israel's retreat from the disputed Shabaa Farms was progressing.
At five minutes notice, the thunderstruck Lebanese ministers called off their meeting to discuss the deployment of their forces in the south and the disarming of Hizballah
Plus Syria is still arming Hezbollah, not that this would surprise anyone:
Syria continues its efforts to transfer large quantities of war materiel, including rockets, to Lebanon, in an effort to assist Hezbollah in its war against Israel, a senior Israel Defense Forces source told Haaretz on Saturday.
According to the IDF source, the air force has succeeded in partially stemming the arms transfers, but intelligence shows that supply convoys have managed to cross into Lebanon from Syria.
Senior Syrian army and intelligence officers are involved in the arms smuggling, according to the senior IDF source, who says it is unlikely this continues without the explicit support of the regime in Damascus.
Two specific types of weapons – anti-tank missiles and rockets used to target Israeli civilians – are of concern.
And finally Israel knows exactly what most of us already know. Hezbollah will not abide by this cease fire:
Israel intends to abide by the cease-fire when it takes effect on Monday morning, even though senior Israeli officials assume that Hizbullah will not honor it, officials close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday night.
The officials said the working assumption at the Prime Minister's Office was that Hizbullah would not honor the agreement and that the world would then comprehend Israel's predicament more than ever. At press time, the Lebanese cabinet had not given final approval to the cease-fire.
"When Hizbullah violates the cease-fire, the world will see who the aggressor is and will understand us," a source close to Olmert said. "We will insist that the agreement be implemented. It's a good agreement for Israel and Hizbullah's opposition is proof."
Although we know who the aggressor is, there are so many terrorist apologists worldwide that I doubt it will have that much of an effect. I mean Hezbollah started this most recent conflict and many people still blame Israel…for you know, existing.
UPDATE VI 2055hrs PST
Check this out:
Lebanon's UN ambassador bitterly slammed Israel's month-long bombardment of his country ahead of a hard-won truce, and vowed that the treaty would be Israel's last with any Middle East country.
"Lebanon will be, I think, the last state to sign a peace treaty with Israel," UN ambassador Nouhad Mahmoud told CNN television's "Late Edition" program. The diplomat added that the 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to be dispatched to south Lebanon to help keep the peace alongside a similarly-sized international UN force "are not going to use force" to disarm the Hizbullah militia which has been battling Israel. (AFP)
I'm sure Israel is shaking in their boots now huh? Geez these people are dummies. And then there is this news:
Lebanon's ambassador to the UN said that his government would not use force to ensure the dismantling of Hizbullah, sources said early Sunday morning. He claimed that Hizbullah would independently be responsible for leaving south Lebanon.
"We could have completed a cease-fire by Sunday morning, but Israel insisted on destroying the essence of Lebanon," the ambassador commented while being interviewed by CNN.
So basically Lebanon is not going to do what the UN has already told them to do (in the earlier UN resolution) and ignore the part of the cease fire agreement that tells the Lebanese government to ensure Hezbollah is disarmed.
UPDATE VII 2100hrs PST
Israel is bombing Beirut:
Israel Air Force aircrafts are striking targets in eastern Beirut, sources in the Lebanese capital reported.
According to the sources, the Israel Defense Forces also dropped leaflets in Beirut in which it warned that Israel would respond to any attack from Lebanon. (AP)