Israel has a week to ten days left in its military operation in Lebanon. This is what came out of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s second visit to Israel yesterday.
Rice met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Defense Minister Amir Peretz and presented them with the outline of her settlement proposal to end hostilities. Secretary Rice then flew to Beirut and may return to Israel.
Here is the general outline of the proposal: A multinational force of about 15,000-20,000 troops will be deployed in Lebanon. The force will be deployed based on Article #7 of the UN Charter giving the force enforcement powers. The force will be deployed in the south of Lebanon and will assist the Lebanese army to deploy there. In addition, the force will be responsible for controlling the border crossings with Syria, preventing the rearmament of Hizballah.
The multinational force will assist the Lebanese army in enforcing United Nations Resolution 1559 calling for the disarmament of all armed militias in Lebanon, including Hizballah.
In return, Israel will withdraw from the Shabaa Farms located on the Golan Heights and hand them over to Lebanon. Once the settlement will take place, a cease fire will go into effect and a prisoner exchange will be made: kidnapped Israeli soldiers Goldwasser and Regev will be returned to Israel, and Israel will then return Samir Kuntar, and an additional Lebanese prisoner back to Lebanon, as well as turn over all the bodies of Hizballah terrorists.
On Monday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will convene all countries willing to send troops to the multinational force, including France, Italy, Germany, Poland, India, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, and possibly Egypt as well.
This week the United Nations’ Security Council is expected to meet in order to authorize the settlement.
Sources in Israel say that Rice did not pressure Israel to stop its military operation.