[Marxism] An Israeli backlash over Lebanon
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 11 08:31:55 MDT 2006
Israel faces domestic backlash over conflict
David Fickling and agencies
Friday August 11, 2006
The Israeli government was today facing growing discontent at home over its
handling of the war in Lebanon.
Polls revealing plummeting support for Ehud Olmert's government came as at
least 13 Lebanese people died in Israeli air strikes and Hizbullah
continued its rocket attacks on northern Israel.
Members of the rightwing Likud party called for fresh elections amid signs
of a growing rift between the Israeli government and elements of its
Antiwar elements of the Israeli left have also voiced their opposition over
Divisions over the war have intensified since a meeting of the security
cabinet on Wednesday, in which differences emerged between Mr Olmert and
the military chief, Dan Halutz, as well as between the defence minister,
Amir Peretz, and his predecessor, Shaul Mofaz.
The rift within Israel is largely between those who support government
policy and those who believe the military campaign should have been more
Meanwhile, heavy bombing continued in Lebanon overnight and this morning.
Twelve people were killed at the Abboudiyeh border crossing, in northern
Lebanon, when Israeli air strikes hit a busy bridge today.
At least one person died when three vehicles were hit in the eastern city
of Baalbek. Suburbs of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, were also bombarded.
The strike on Abboudiyeh means there is now only one official way in or out
of Lebanon, at the coastal town of Arida.
Israeli troops tightened their control of the southern Lebanese town of
Marjayoun, a strategic site on high ground north of the heavily rocketed
Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.
The town - where Israeli troops and a pro-Israeli militia were
headquartered during the occupation of southern Lebanon until six years ago
- overlooks large areas of Hizbullah-held territory in the south of Lebanon.
UN peacekeepers were today heading to the town to evacuate 350 Lebanese
soldiers after Israeli troops reportedly told them they would not be
allowed to leave.
"The situation is so bad. There is a curfew, so we can't see the Israelis,
but we hear gunshots near the house," Rana Daher, a Marjayoun resident,
"We have no running water, no electricity, and we are running out of food.
We have one bag of bread left," she added.
Israel has been carving out a five mile deep security zone north of the
Lebanese border over the past fortnight, but Wednesday's security cabinet
decision authorised the armed forces to extend the zone as far as the
Litani River, 18 miles north of the border, and beyond.
The plan - which would see Israel reoccupying all areas it withdrew from in
2000 - was suspended at the last moment on Wednesday night.
The move apparently came after the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice,
persuaded Mr Olmert to give the UN security council time to come up with a
resolution to end the crisis.
Israeli officials said the government was prepared to hold off further
invasion until the end of the weekend, but that the measure would be
pursued if diplomatic moves failed.
"If we can achieve that by diplomatic means and are sure that there is an
intention to implement that document, we shall definitely be in a position
where the military operation has achieved diplomatic space and a new
situation has been created here in the north," Mr Peretz said.
A poll published in Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper showed approval ratings for
Mr Olmert's government had fallen to 48% from 75% in the opening stages of
A similar poll in Yedioth Ahronoth showed approval ratings falling from 73%
The influential political commentator Ari Shavit wrote in Ha'aretz that Mr
Olmert had "failed shamefully" and should resign. "You cannot lead an
entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and
remain in power," he said.
Silvan Shalom, considered the number two figure in the Likud party, from
which most members of Mr Olmert's Kadima party defected last year, said he
would work to bring down the government.
There were also signs of growing dissent on the Israeli left, with the
Meretz party and the Peace Now organisation voicing their opposition to the
The novelists Amos Oz, David Grossman and AB Yehoshua have called on Mr
Olmert to accept Mr Siniora's proposals.
Opinion polls also showed signs of growing anti-war feeling. The Yedioth
Ahronoth poll found support for an extended ground operation had dropped
from 73% to 64%.
Figures on the Israeli right have pushed for the military to take control
of the largest possible area of southern Lebanon prior to a security
council resolution that would end the military campaign.
They hope the expected internationally-patrolled security area in southern
Lebanon would extend far beyond Israel's borders.
The Israeli intention is to flush Hizbullah fighters out of the border area
so they would not be able to fire rockets into northern Israel. However,
many - including Mr Olmert - have questioned whether such a policy would
work in the long term.
At the UN, French and US officials worked late into last night in an
attempt to come up with a draft resolution that would be acceptable to all
sides in the conflict.
The Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora, has proposed sending 15,000
Lebanese troops to the border area to accompany a smaller,
internationally-mandated peacekeeping force.
However, objections to the proposed resolution remain from both Lebanese
and Israeli negotiators.
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