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THE WAR & POLITICS

PM Ehud Olmert: 'The IDF did not present any battle plan to go beyond current lines until yesterday morning'

FM Tzipi Livni: 'Prime Minister Siniora should wipe his tears and start working'

MK Avshalom Vilan: 'It is the PM's job to oversee military conduct of the war'

Israel considers whether to continue its limited search and clear tactics against Hezbollah guerrillas near the border or to expand the ground operation to the Litani river.

:: IsraCast Audio ::
Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora

Only yesterday did the IDF present the government with an operational plan to expand beyond the current lines in southern Lebanon. Tomorrow the security cabinet will decide on whether to approve an IDF advance to the Litani river. That was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defending his conduct of the war.

Prime Minister Olmert is facing flak. Today he defended his approach stating that the government has approved all plans presented by the IDF for suppressing the Hezbollah rocket fire on Israel. Now on the table is a proposal to move further north into Lebanon to knock out the Katyusha squads that continue to harass northern Israel with the short range Katyushas. The consensus today is that air power alone cannot flush the guerrillas out of their hiding places- onlyboots on the ground can do that.

Olmert called on the international community to see to it that what was in Lebanon will not continue to be. He referred to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 that calls for for the dismantling of Hezbollah. Reacting to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Sinioras proposal to dispatch 15,000 Lebanese army troops to police the border area, Olmert said it was interesting if it proved to be practicable. And Olmert added that if Hezbollah was ready to accept the proposal, it might mean the guerrillas were beginning to break under IDF pressure. The Israeli leader repeated that he has no intention of conquering Lebanon. But as he was speaking, Hezbollah was launching dozens of more Katyushas into Israel. In addition, the government has started a temporary evacuation plan for residents of Kiryat Shemonah who have been living inside bomb shelters since the war began twenty-eight days ago. Thousands of other residents have fled the hard-hit town to travel south of rocket range.

Speaking in the Knesset, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned that nothing good would come from watering down the U.S.-French resolution for a cease-fire. She said that not only Hezbollah but Iran, Syria and Hamas were waiting to see what the outcome would be. If Hezbollah were allowed to refuel with more missiles it would destroy the present window of opportunity for Lebanon as a free country. The Foreign Minister took issue with Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora who wept publicly during a speech. Livni said the war a tragedy for both sides. It was not of Israels making but of the Lebanese governments failure to confront Hezballahs aggression. Livni concluded : Prime Minister Siniora should wipe his tears and start working to create a better future for Lebanese citizens.

Sitting in the visitors gallery were the families of the IDF soldier abducted by Hamas inside Israel and the two soldiers abducted by Hezbollah in Galilee. It was the Hezbollah rocketing of Israel and the simultaneous cross border raid that triggered the war in Lebanon.

Back now to Israels conduct of the war and the Prime Ministers statement about approving the IDFs strategy. Knesset Member Avshalom Vilan of the left wing Meretz party served in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit. He discusses several aspects now being debated in Israel.

David Essing

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