The Israeli Cabinet approved the adoption of UN Resolution 1701 for a ceasefire in Lebanon by a majority of 24 ministers in favor and one abstention (Minister Shaul Mofaz). The Cabinet decision said that the government will act based on its obligations in the resolution.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the UN Resolution is a great achievement for Israel which was reached after the mobilization of the entire Israeli diplomatic corps. “We need to understand that the UN resolution is not a condemnation or a draw, but a 15-0 score in favor of Israel. Everything we wanted got in. This is a good decision. In contrast to what some are saying, the Hizballah has been dealt a harsh blow and I believe they will not be motivated to go on another such adventure. Every agreement has a chance to be breached, but we will have to decide what we will do if this happens. Hizballah will no longer be a state within a state, and Resolution 1701 says that Lebanon now becomes the responsible party. If there will be a breach of the ceasefire there is now a government that will bear the responsibility,” Olmert said.
But not everybody in the room supported the resolution. Former Defense Minister and current Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) was the only one not to vote in favor of the resolution. “I am for the ceasefire, but the agreement is far from being satisfactory,” Mofaz said during the meeting. “There is no language calling for the disarming of Hizballah, and there is no one to enforce it. UNIFIL does not know who is Hizballah and who is a civilian,” he said. Mofaz also expressed his displeasure that the return of the kidnapped soldiers is not a condition for a ceasefire.
National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer (Labor) said that the agreement is full of holes. “We all know what the Lebanese army is like and what UNIFIL is like. If we will not fill in the gaps, it looks like we lost this war,” he said.
Olmert answered all his critics and said “there is a conceptual mistake that we had to do one thing or another. The objective of this war was not the ground campaign but to minimize the firing against Israel. There is a passion to turn the ground offensive into the essence of it all and to claim that it is a sign of weakness. This is unsubstantiated and untrue and the army has shown great capabilities. The Air Force has surgically destroyed the long range missile launchers wave after wave. If there is something we were able to do in this war it was to prove that we have a strong arm which is capable of amazing things.”
Olmert added that he is sorry that there are those in Israel that have no patience that while soldiers are fighting and everything is super-sensitive, they are already blasting the government. “We acted calmly and coolheaded. I will not be drawn into these arguments while Israel is at the height of the conflict. We need to be patient, and when the time comes ask the right questions and investigate everything that happened. Right now people’s lives are at stake and the time for conclusions will be here soon.”
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