UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has notified Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the newly formed multinational force will arrive in Lebanon within a week and will be ready for deployment.
In response to the news from Annan, PM Olmert thanked him and emphasized the importance of releasing the three kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldiers. Olmert added that according to UN Resolution 1701, the responsibility for their wellbeing is in the hands of the Lebanese government.
Olmert added that that the deployment of the multinational force in south Lebanon is an achievement no one would have dreamed of before the war. Olmert said that “if somebody thought only a month and a half ago that there would be an international force in the area, the Lebanese Army would be deployed in the south, resolution 1559 would start being implemented, that the Sec. General would instruct the international force to enforce a weapons ban, that there would be an arms embargo on Lebanon, supervision at the borders, all this with IDF forces inside Lebanon without being drawn into conflicts, and with a sea and air blockade, people would have said he is fantasizing and that those expectations are way too high.”
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in response to the latest developments that it seems like UN Resolution 1701 is indeed being implemented seriously. In the weekly Cabinet meeting Livni expressed her satisfaction from the latest responses by European countries who have guaranteed their participation in the international force.
The latest European troop numbers given by Livni in the meeting include Italy with 3,000 troops, France with 2,000, Spain – 1,000, Belgium - 394, Poland - 500 to 800, Finland – 200 to 250 and Holland, Greece and Germany, who will provide naval forces.
Despite these developments, Israel is emphasizing that any delay of the force could cause a deterioration on the ground and that as long as the embargo is not enforced, Israel reserves the right to protect itself.