During the Cabinet meeting held yesterday when it was agreed to expand the ground campaign in southern Lebanon, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that if there is no way to achieve the objectives we put forth in a diplomatic process, we need to act militarily with full force even if we have to pay the ultimate price in human lives. If we can achieve it in a diplomatic way, said Olmert, we would be irresponsible towards ourselves if we didn’t act that way.
During the meeting Olmert urged the cabinet to fully endorse the recommendations and plans presented by the Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister. “We defined the objectives, not the number of troops or recommended actions. They know this better than anyone and if we don’t trust them we are in deep trouble. I trust them 100 percent and accept their recommendations,” said Olmert.
The commanders of the army presented the timetables for the campaign: two weeks to reach the Litani River and a month to a month and a half to sterilize the area from Hizballah.
During the meeting PM Olmert received a phone call from Condoleezza Rice updating him on the diplomatic efforts. “There could be developments, so keep that in mind,” Rice told Olmert. She did not object to deepening the ground campaign, but asked that the Israeli army be careful not to hurt civilians.