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Ayalon: US not pressuring Israel
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Israeli envoy: US will not stop operation in Lebanon
At end of long day of discussions with US government officials, Israeli ambassador to US says that American government not intending to pressure Israel to stop military operation. US secretary of state declares in interview with Fox News that Hizbullah will surrender
WASHINGTON - After a long day of policy meetings with senior officials in the US government, the Israeli ambassador to the US, Danny Ayalon, said in an interview with Ynet, "The American government is not planning on pressuring Israel. In the US there is no intention of stopping Israel's military operations in Lebanon before the desire results are achieved."

 

Despite the Qana incident, in which tens of Lebanese civilians were killed, the American government stuck to its basic position that there should be no returning to a situation similar to the one before Hizbullah attacked Israel's northern border, kidnapping two IDF soldiers.


Fighting continues in Lebanon     (Photo: AP)

 

In an interview with Fox News, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claimed that the US is not instructing Israel how to run its military operations, but is interested in finding a way to end the violence while not allowing Hizbullah to claim a victory. She emphasized that the violence must stop, but only in a manner that will make it clear that Hizbullah will not attack Israel again in another few months or years. This should be achieved, she said, by enlarging the capabilities of the Lebanese army in the south and by changing the circumstances on the ground. She said she is confident that at the end of the day, Hizbullah will surrender.

 

Tuesday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, and Israel's ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, held a day of policy discussions in Washington, during which they met with both Rice and National Security Advisor Steve Hadley. During these meetings, Israel reiterated its firm stance, by which it is prepared for a ceasefire only under the following conditions: Return of the kidnapped soldiers, cessation of shooting toward Israel, achievement of a political arrangement for the disarming of Hizbullah, and the deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon and the Syrian border to prevent arms smuggling.

 

Following the meeting between Peres and Rice, the US Secretary of State said that she estimates that a ceasefire will be reached within days. Peres, in contrast, believes it will be weeks until a ceasefire is reached.

 

Contrary to their public declarations, the US, the European countries, and a significant portion of the Arab countries expect that Israel will do the job and will overthrow the Hizbullah. Also the French, who are apparently going to lead the multinational force, are interested in seeing Hizbullah crushed, though by a political process of willing dissolution as set forth by the UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

 

Despite UN calls to an immediate ceasefire, the Security Council will not convene Wednesday as was planned a few days ago. A date is yet to be set for when it will meet, and it is possible that it won't meet until the beginning of next week. In the meantime, there are reports that progress has been made in the discussions with France, which is meant to contribute 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers to the multinational force. Italy, Poland, and Turkey have expressed interest in sending soldiers to the force, which will ultimately number about 30,000 soldiers.

 

At first, France stipulated that it would only send soldiers after a ceasefire was reached, but Israel insisted that there would be no discussion of a ceasefire until the multinational force is in place. As of now, it seems as though that is the decision that has been settled upon.

 

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