Just Foreign Policy News, July 27, 2006

Just Foreign Policy News
July 27, 2006

In this issue:
1) Americans Showing Isolationist Streak, Poll Finds
2) Israel Debates Strategy Shift After Truce Talks Fail
3) Deadly Conflict Brings Out Harder Israeli Edge
4) UN Hits Impasse on Text Criticizing Israeli Attack
5) Israel Pounds South Lebanon
6) Belgian Couple to Accuse Israel of War Crimes
7) MidEast Diplomacy Shifts to Asia as Rice Arrives
8) Rice Defends U.S. Position on Cease – Fire
9) Report: U.N. Observers’ Calls Unheeded
10) Analysts: Lebanon Conflict Could Widen
11) Israel Mulls Broadening Lebanon Offensive
12) Australian: Peacekeepers to Leave Lebanon
13) U.N. Says It Protested to Israel for 6 Hours During Attack That Killed 4 Observers in Lebanon
14) Democratic Opponent of Clinton Criticizes Actions of Israel
15) Deadliest Day for Israel in Lebanon
16) Hezbollah Proves a Formidable Foe
17) 24 Killed As Israel Moves Into N. Gaza
18) Beckett protest at weapons flight
19) ‘Waiting to Get Blown Up’
Some Troops in Baghdad Express Frustration With the War and Their Mission
20) Recount the Votes — and Be Patient
21) Q & A: The 15th Day

Summary:
Americans are overwhelmingly pessimistic about the state of affairs in the Middle East, with majorities doubtful there will ever be peace between Israel and its neighbors, or that American troops will be able to leave Iraq anytime soon, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. A majority said the war between Israel and Hezbollah will lead to a wider war. And while almost half of those polled approved of President Bush’s handling of the crisis, a majority said they preferred the United States leave it to others to resolve. A majority of respondents, 56 percent, said they supported a timetable for a reduction in United States forces in Iraq. More than half of that group said they supported a withdrawal even if it meant Iraq would fall into the hands of insurgents. By a wide margin Americans did not believe the United States should take the lead in solving international conflicts.

Israel’s security cabinet today decided against expanding its ground offensive in Lebanon. Before the meeting, Israeli officials said they regarded the failure of an international conference to reach agreement on a cease-fire plan as clearing the way for further assaults on Hezbollah. “We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world,’’ Justice Minister Ramon said, “to continue this operation, this war, until Hezbollah won’t be located in Lebanon and until it is disarmed.” Mr. Ramon also raised the possibility of an expanded air assault, saying “all those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah.’’

Arab governments and newspapers expressed disappointment at the outcome of the Rome conference. Egypt’s foreign minister said the meeting had “failed to meet Arab demands” for a cease-fire, AFP reported. The Saudi daily Okaz criticized the “major powers” for delaying a cease-fire by insisting on “conditions that will allow the aggression to continue,” according to Reuters.

The lack of action prompted Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon to lash out with a cry of despair. “Is the value of human life less in Lebanon than that of citizens elsewhere?” he asked. “Are we children of a lesser god? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?” Accusing Israel of “barbaric destruction,” he vowed to seek justice, announcing that Lebanon would begin legal proceedings for war reparations.

European and Arab governments, Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, and Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, pushed hard for an immediate cessation of hostilities or even a truce on humanitarian grounds. But these proposals were blocked by the U.S. Secretary of State.  Rice’s position effectively gives Israel more time to continue its strikes. She has said she does not want to dictate to Israel how it should handle its affairs.

Israeli air assaults continued today, Reuters reported. It quoted Lebanese security officials who said that Israeli warplanes struck a convoy carrying food and medical supplies from Syria, killing two truck drivers. Agence France-Presse said that nine people were killed in new air strikes, including a gendarme and a Nigerian domestic worker hit by an Israeli missile while riding his motorbike near the southern city of Tyre.

Hezbollah on Thursday kept up its sustained fire on northern Israel, with 130 rockets hitting the region, wounding more than 10 Israelis.

The death toll has been at least 433 in Lebanon and 51 in Israel, according to Reuters.

Israel continued to shell Gaza. A mother and her two young daughters died when an artillery shell hit their home, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. A third young girl was also killed, and dozens of Palestinians were wounded.

Israel’s talk of breaking Hezbollah’s back has given way to more limited goals as Israeli ground troops have bogged down just a few miles into the country. The latest talk is of creating a buffer zone just two kilometers wide, which Israel said it could police from its side of the border. Olmert suggested that Israel would try to keep order from its side of the border with artillery and airstrikes. Likud member Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Knesset’s committee on defense and foreign affairs described the government’s plan as half-baked. “If we want to achieve something with this operation, then we need to conduct massive ground operations and clear out all of southern Lebanon,” he said.

The U.N. Security Council failed to agree on a statement late on Wednesday condemning a deadly Israeli attack on a U.N. observer post in Lebanon after the US blocked language critical of Israel, Reuters reports. Washington demanded the deletion of language condemning “any deliberate attack against U.N. personnel.” China’s U.N. ambassador called for a strong statement of condemnation after an Israeli air attack destroyed the U.N. post in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, killing peacekeepers. Asked whether the U.S. position might affect China’s attitude toward American efforts for a resolution on Iran’s nuclear program, he indicated there might be some spillover. “I think that all members will reflect, on what lessons, if there are any, (can be) learned from this episode,” he said.

An ICRC report said one of its delegates who had visited Blida, near the Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil, had found about 700 people, including 300 children, sheltering in a mosque.
Villagers were running short of water, food and medicine, displaced people were sheltering in schools and patients were stranded in hospitals. “As people were afraid to go out, fearing bombardments, dead bodies had not been removed from the streets and others were still buried in rubble,” the ICRC said.

A Belgian couple of Lebanese origin is filing a complaint accusing Israeli leaders of war crimes over the bombing of Lebanon, a Belgian newspaper reported. The complaint will be made under Belgium’s universal jurisdiction law which allows Belgian judges to prosecute human rights violations regardless of where they are committed. The couple were in Lebanon with their three children when Israel began bombarding targets in Lebanon. The attacks destroyed the family’s Beirut apartment and forced them to flee the country. The couple’s complaint names Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Peretz and military chief Lieutenant-General Halutz. More complaints are expected soon, the newspaper said.

Asian countries at the ASEAN meetings in Malaysia expressed concerns about Mideast violence. Iran has been pushing for an emergency session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to discuss the Lebanon crisis and sources have said it could be held as early as next week.

U.N. observers in Lebanon telephoned the Israeli military 10 times in six hours to ask it to stop shelling near their position before an attack killed four observers, U.N. officials said Wednesday. The U.N. observation post near Khiam came under close Israeli fire 21 times Tuesday — including 12 hits within 100 yards and five direct hits from 1:20 p.m. until the peacekeepers’ post was destroyed at 7:30 p.m. U.N. officials said Hezbollah militants had been operating in the area of the post near the eastern end of the border with Israel, a routine tactic to prevent Israel from attacking them. Officials in the outpost called the Israeli army 10 times during those six hours, and each time an army official promised to have the bombing stopped, according to a preliminary U.N. report on the incident. Once it became clear those pleas were being ignored, the force’s commander sought the involvement of top officials in New York. Top officials, including Deputy Secretary-General Malloch Brown, made several calls to Israel’s U.N. mission ”reiterating these protests and calling for an abatement of the shelling,” according to a UN official. U.N. officials said the observation position was well marked.

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the reaction of UN officials Tuesday was understandable. “I can sympathize very strongly with the people in the Secretariat who were trying for hours to prevent the tragic consequences of the shelling, and I can easily understand their feelings when they realized that the people they were trying to help for a very long time, for hours, were killed,” Mr. Churkin said. He added, “One would expect to see more respect for peacekeepers if one wants to rely on them in the future.”

The Security Council this week is considering the renewal of the mandate of Unifil, which ends next Monday. France, president of the council this month, has suggested a one-month extension to give time for planning an expanded new force.

Australia has decided to withdraw its 12 peacekeeping troops from southern Lebanon because of the danger there, the defense minister said Thursday.

The Lebanon conflict could widen and worsen the longer it goes on, U.S. congressional analysts warn in an analysis of the crisis. Open war between Israel and Syria will grow more likely, and Lebanon’s old civil-war rivalries might re-ignite, the Congressional Research Service writes. Oil prices could spike, and the U.S. will have to guard against new terror threats, says the report ”Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah: The Current Conflict.” The crisis ”increases the possibility that the United States, after shunning Syria for several years, may have to deal with Damascus at some point in an effort to contain escalating violence,” the report says. The report is online at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33566.pdf

Veteran Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery mocks the Israeli governments war aims in an intervew published on Gush Shalom’s website. “On the 15th day of the war, Hizbullah is functioning and fighting. That by itself will go down in the annals of the Arab peoples as a shining victory… Hizbullah can be ‘moved’ only if the whole Shiite population is moved – an ethnic cleansing that (I hope) no one is thinking about. After the war the population will return to their towns and villages, and Hizbullah will continue to flourish.”

The British Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, has protested to the US about its use of a Scottish airport to transport bombs to Israel, according to the BBC. Beckett said it seemed the US was not following the right procedures over arms flights. Opposition parties have reacted angrily to a report in the Daily Telegraph that two cargo planes filled with laser-guided bombs landed at Prestwick Airport en-route to Israel from the US. The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party called for the UK government to respond. According to BBC 2’s Newsnight programme, the US has lodged requests to bring two more planes through the UK carrying bombs and missiles for Israel in the next two weeks. Liberal Democrat leader Campbell said: “If these reports are true, it is particularly provocative for the United States to have acted in this way. It can only reinforce the belief of many that Britain is taken for granted in the so-called special relationship. Who knows how many of these munitions may be used to cause the kind of damage to Lebanon which the prime minister of that country described in Rome as cutting his country to pieces.” SNP defence spokesman Robertson urged ministers to intervene to prevent Scottish involvement in the conflict. “The UK government must get behind the UN call for a ceasefire by both Hezbollah and Israel, rather than using Scotland as a staging post for supplying weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “The London Labour government must end UK involvement in this process now. This issue once again highlights the need for an end to the hypocrisy shown by the Liberal Democrats, who have again called for an investigation at Westminster but importantly, where their minister is responsible for transport at Holyrood, they are doing nothing to stop these flights.”

As President Bush plans to deploy more troops in Baghdad, morale among U.S. troops is low, the Washington Post reports. U.S. soldiers who have been patrolling the capital for months describe a deadly and infuriating mission in which the enemy is elusive and success hard to find.

Jonathan Tasini, the antiwar candidate mounting a Democratic primary challenge against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, said this week that Israel had “committed many acts of brutality and violations of human rights and torture,” the New York Times reported yesterday. Mr. Tasini made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with a political blog, the Room 8, according to an audiotape posted Monday on the Web site, www.r8ny.com. His comments drew swift criticism from the Clinton campaign. “It’s outrageous, offensive and beyond the pale,” said a Clinton spokesman. In an interview late Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Tasini acknowledged that he had touched a “third rail of New York politics.” But he said that his comments were being misconstrued and insisted that he never claimed that Israel was a “terrorist state.” At the same time, he refused to back away from his criticism of Israeli policy. “I have been critical of Israeli conduct in the occupied territories — Gaza and the West Bank — and in the current conflict, in the same way that I have been absolutely critical of Hezbollah,” he said.

With a margin of 200,000 votes separating the candidates, and allegations of serious irregularities, Mexico is still waiting for its new president, Jorge de los Santos, an adviser to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, writes in the Washington Post. The good news for Mexico is that, as in the United States, there are courts that will bring closure to the election. The Federal Electoral Tribunal in Mexico will decide on the validity of any allegations or irregularities. This court is the single institution with the authority to announce the winner of the election. It has experience with high-profile elections and difficult decisions and has even overturned the elections in two Mexican states. It will be up to the court to officially declare the winner. A full recount of the votes, and transparent legal proceedings, would be good for Mexico. It would strengthen Mexico’s democracy; it would make government more effective; it will bring legitimacy to the winner. López Obrador has said that if he loses the recount, he will accept the results, though under protest, and will call off any demonstrations. Mexicans still have a month and a half before they know the outcome of their election. Mexico has in its electoral process enough time for legal challenges.

Articles:
1) Americans Showing Isolationist Streak, Poll Finds
Jim Rutenberg And Megan C. Thee
New York Times
July 27, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/27/washington/27poll.html

2) Israel Debates Strategy Shift After Truce Talks Fail
Greg Myre And John O’neil
New York Times
July 27, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/27/world/europe/27cnd-mideast.html

3) Deadly Conflict Brings Out Harder Israeli Edge
Reuters
July 27, 2006
Filed at 7:49 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-mideast-israelis.html

4) UN Hits Impasse on Text Criticizing Israeli Attack
Reuters
July 26, 2006
Filed at 11:34 p.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-mideast-un-council.html

5) Israel Pounds South Lebanon
Reuters
July 27, 2006
Filed at 8:34 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-mideast.html

6) Belgian Couple to Accuse Israel of War Crimes
Reuters
July 27, 2006
Filed at 4:55 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-mideast-lebanon-belgium.html

7) MidEast Diplomacy Shifts to Asia as Rice Arrives
Reuters
July 27, 2006
Filed at 8:13 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/news/news-asean.html

8) Rice Defends U.S. Position on Cease – Fire
Associated Press
July 27, 2006
Filed at 8:26 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Rice.html

9) Report: U.N. Observers’ Calls Unheeded
Associated Press
July 27, 2006
Filed at 1:37 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Mideast-Fighting-UN-Observers.html

10) Analysts: Lebanon Conflict Could Widen
Associated Press
July 27, 2006
Filed at 4:48 a.m. ET

11) Israel Mulls Broadening Lebanon Offensive
Associated Press
July 27, 2006
Filed at 7:36 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Mideast-Fighting-Israel.html

12) Australian: Peacekeepers to Leave Lebanon
Associated Press
July 27, 2006
Filed at 1:05 a.m. ET
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Mideast-Fighting-Australia.html

13) U.N. Says It Protested to Israel for 6 Hours During Attack That Killed 4 Observers in Lebanon
Warren Hoge
New York Times
July 27, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/27/world/middleeast/27nations.html

14) Democratic Opponent of Clinton Criticizes Actions of Israel
Raymond Hernandez
New York Times
July 26, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/26/nyregion/26tasini.html

15) Deadliest Day for Israel in Lebanon
Jonathan Finer and Edward Cody
Washington Post
Thursday, July 27, 2006; A01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072600806.html

16) Hezbollah Proves a Formidable Foe
Entrenched Guerrilla Force Exposes Limits of Israel’s Modern Army
Scott Wilson and Edward Cody
Washington Post
Thursday, July 27, 2006; Page A01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072601714.html

17) 24 Killed As Israel Moves Into N. Gaza
Deadliest Day in Strip Since ’05 Withdrawal
John Ward Anderson
Washington Post
Thursday, July 27, 2006; A16
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072600575.html

18) Beckett protest at weapons flight
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has protested to the US about its use of a Scottish airport to transport bombs to Israel.
BBC NEWS
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_politics/5218036.stm

19) ‘Waiting to Get Blown Up’
Some Troops in Baghdad Express Frustration With the War and Their Mission
Joshua Partlow
Washington Post
Thursday, July 27, 2006; A01
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072601666.html

20) Recount the Votes — and Be Patient
Jorge de los Santos
Washington Post
Thursday, July 27, 2006; A25
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072601494.html

21) Q & A: The 15th Day
Uri Avnery 
Gush Shalom
July 26, 2006
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1153941800

——–
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

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One Response to “Just Foreign Policy News, July 27, 2006”

  1. Danila Says:

    hello

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