May 8/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14,21-26. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."
Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, "Master, (then) what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?"
Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.

Free Opinion
On the Line of Earthquakes.Dar Al-Hayat - Beirut,Lebanon. May 8/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 8/07-Naharnet
Maronite leader looking for help from Rome?Catholic World News
Sfeir resumes contacts following return from Rome.Daily Star

Olmert Survives No-Confidence Votes on Failures in Lebanon War-Bloomberg
Sinyora praises Jordan’s support to Lebanon.Jordan News Agency
Syria wants talks, security official says.Ynetnews
Nasrallah Rejects Tribunal Under Chapter 7, Will Not Give Up 'Defensive' Weapons-Naharnet
Saniora Discloses Israel-Hizbullah War Losses
Germany Considering Extending its UNIFIL Naval Command
Hizbullah Hopes Sarkozy Will Have 'Balanced' Approach to Lebanon's ...Naharnet
Hezbollah resists tribunal in Hariri assassination.USA Today - USA
Lebanese leaders spar over how to replace Lahoud-Daily Star
Hariri Congratulates Sarkozy-Naharnet
Nasrallah: Azmi Bishara Did Not Spy for Hizbullah
International Measures Underway to Resolve Shabaa Farms Dispute
Explosions heard in northern Israeli city.International Herald Tribune
Hezbollah seeks 'balanced' policy under new French president ...International Herald Tribune
Constitution cannot be changed to elect president, says - Italy
Lebanon spends $318 million on post-war rebuilding.San Diego Union Tribune
Australian Government Asks Lebanese to Pay for Evacuation-Naharnet
Two Palestinians die in clash at Lebanon camp.San Diego Union Tribune
Livni: We can't repeat mistakes of Lebanon war in Gaza.Ha'aretz

Nasrallah Rejects Tribunal Under Chapter 7, Will Not Give Up 'Defensive' Weapons
Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah rejected creation of an international tribunal into the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter and said Hizbullah was not willing to give up its "defensive" weapons. "We say no to the establishment of a tribunal under chapter seven," Nasrallah told an Iranian television channel on Sunday. The U.N. has already signed a deal with Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government to set up a special court to try suspects in the Hariri killing, but the Hizbullah-led opposition has been blocking its ratification, saying the U.N. would use it for political ends. The Security Council has the power to impose the court on Lebanon if the deadlock continues, under chapter seven of the U.N. charter.
Hariri was killed in February 2005 along with 22 others in a massive bomb blast, widely blamed on Syria, which was then forced to end nearly 30 years of military and political domination in Lebanon. In an apparent response to the issue of resolving the disputed Israeli-occupied Shabaa Farms which would open the way toward deciding on the fate of Hizbullah weapons, Nasrallah insisted the Resistance adheres to its "defensive strategy."
"We have a defensive existence, meaning that if Lebanon or the south came under attack, we will defend Lebanon," Nasrallah said.
"Frankly, we do not wait for anybody's permission," before defending Lebanon, he added. Nasrallah reiterated that early parliamentary elections were the only way that would get Lebanon out of the ongoing political crisis and hailed a proposal by his ally, Gen. Michel Aoun, in which he suggested that the next president be elected directly by the people.
"We believe that resorting to the people to get out of any problem is a very natural option," Nasrallah said. "The idea to elect a president by the people for one time or even for several times is a civilized and democratic thought." Nasrallah, nevertheless, said he was still in favor of early parliamentary elections.
He scoffed at U.S. President George Bush's administration, saying the American scheme in Lebanon has failed.
Addressing the pro-government ruling majority, Nasrallah said: "The plot has failed. You will not control Lebanon … You will not crush the Resistance … You will not turn Lebanon into a country under the American scheme or the American alliance in the region." Beirut, 07 May 07, 06:47

Saniora Discloses Israel-Hizbullah War Losses
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora said Monday last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah has claimed 1.200 lives and wounded 4.400 people.
Saniora provided in a news conference the first official estimate of casualties sustained during the July-August war between Hizbullah and Israel.
He said 7.500 fishermen also sustained damage to their boats, nets and equipment due to heavy Israeli bombardment. During the confrontation, Saniora said, 862 schools were damaged and 22 schools were completely destroyed. Sappers from the Lebanese Army, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have defused 114.000 cluster bombs and 468 other types of bombs dropped by Israeli forces during the war, according to Saniora. The Israeli offensive also damaged and destroyed 91 bridges throughout Lebanon as well as runways in Lebanon's three airports, according to Saniora.
He said most of the damage inflicted by the infra structure also has been repaired by government teams. International donors provided Lebanon with 707 million dollars in aid, Saniora said. Beirut, 07 May 07, 19:32

Germany Considering Extending its UNIFIL Naval Command
Germany is favorably considering a request to extend its mandate as leader of the naval component of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a government spokesman said Monday. "The United Nations has asked the German government to stay on in its commanding role for another rotation period," foreign ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner told a press conference. "We understand from New York that the request is based on a desire for continuity regarding the mission in Lebanon." UNIFIL was deployed in the aftermath of Israel's devastating 34-day war last summer against Hizbullah fighters in Lebanon.
Its naval component is meant to prevent arms being smuggled to Hizbullah across the Mediterranean and has been spearheaded since October by a contingent of some 850 German sailors. Chief government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm also said Berlin received the U.N. request for an extension in April after Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated during a visit to Beirut that Germany would consider such a demand. "She made clear that we are open to this request... We received a request on April 23 and we are examining it in a positive light," he said. Prolonging the Mandate of the German contingent, which is due to expire on August 31, would have to be approved by the cabinet and the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. Under the current mandate, Berlin can deploy up to 1,500 sailors, 400 support staff, 100 air troops and 100 training officers off the Lebanese coast. A foreign ministry official said the U.N. was seeking a six-month extension. The international naval force also includes Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swede sailors.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 May 07, 17:22

Hizbullah Hopes Sarkozy Will Have 'Balanced' Approach to Lebanon's Crisis
Hizbullah on Monday expressed hope that the newly elected French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, will have a "more balanced" approach to Lebanon's political crisis, while the governing coalition wished for continued support from Paris. Outgoing French president Jacques Chirac has staunchly supported Premier Fouad Saniora's government against Syria and its local allies in the Lebanese opposition, including Hizbullah, drawing their criticism.
Hizbullah welcomed the election results and urged the new leader to make policy decisions that "are more appropriate with French national interests, and consequently less biased toward one party against the other." "We hope that the French president will have the vision for a more influential role through being more balanced" in his policies, Nawaf Moussawi, head of international relations at Hizbullah, said in a statement.
Syria, at odds with Chirac over his Lebanon policy, congratulated Sarkozy. President Bashar Assad in a telegram expressed hopes that relations between Syria and France, which have been marred for the past two years, "would develop for the two countries' interests," Syria's state-run news agency reported.
Chirac organized in January the Paris 3 donors' conference that raised more than $7 billion in soft loans and grants for Lebanon. In addition, he sent French troops as peacekeepers to southern Lebanon to monitor a cease-fire that ended the fighting last summer between Israel and Hizbullah.
Chirac's involvement in Lebanon caused a stir last year when President Emile Lahoud, a pro-Syrian, publicly criticized the French president.
Lahoud has urged Chirac to stop intervening in Lebanon's internal affairs, accusing him of siding with the anti-Syrian March 14 alliance. He even blamed Chirac for excluding the Lebanese leader from the Francophonie summit in Romania in September. Chirac has rejected the charges.
Understandably, Lebanon's anti-Syrian governing coalition hoped Sarkozy's presidency would mean continued French support.
Within minutes of the results, legislator Saad Hariri sent a message of congratulations to Sarkozy, expressing confidence that historic ties will continue to develop.
Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was a friend of Chirac and the outgoing president is leading the efforts to create an international tribunal to try the slain premier's suspected assassins. There has been quiet concern in the country's parliamentary majority that with Chirac leaving office, personal, hands-on involvement by France may become a thing of the past. The governing coalition in Beirut needs French backing, particularly in the U.N. Security Council, which discussed the tribunal last week and could adopt it under chapter seven of the U.N. charter because of a deadlock between the government and opposition over its formation.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 May 07, 14:16

Deadly Clashes Between Rival Palestinians in Ein el-Hilweh
At least one Palestinian was killed and four wounded during clashes between rival factions in the southern refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh Monday, a Palestinian security source told Agence France Presse. The dead man was identified as Abu Omar, from the secular Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The source said Abu Omar was allegedly killed by a rival from the Islamist Jund al-Sham movement who was himself wounded after an argument degenerated into gunfire.But the National News Agency said two members from Fatah were killed in the fighting. The security source told AFP that three Palestinian women were also wounded by stray bullets.Ein el-Hilweh, 45 kilometers south of Beirut, is the largest of Lebanon's 12 refugee camps and home to 47,000 Palestinians.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 May 07, 13:38

Australian Government Asks Lebanese to Pay for Evacuation
The Australian government has asked Lebanese-Australians to help pay part of the cost of evacuating them from Lebanon last summer, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. It said on Sunday that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has sent letters to thousands of Lebanese, asking for voluntary payment of around $650 per adult and nearly $500 for children. ABC quoted a spokesman for the Islamic Friendship Association, Keysar Trad, as saying in a radio news program that he believes payment is voluntary and mainly affects Australian citizens who were residents in Lebanon. "I would have thought it unusual but, again, if people can afford it and they're being given the option to pay for their own transport, I think that those who can afford it will do so," he said. ABC said thousands of Lebanese-Australians were evacuated on planes chartered by the Australian government during the July-August Israeli offensive on Lebanon. Beirut, 07 May 07, 12

Nasrallah: Azmi Bishara Did Not Spy for Hizbullah
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has denied that former Arab Israeli lawmaker Azmi Bishara -- wanted by Israeli authorities for espionage -- had ever spied for the Shiite group. Israeli police said earlier this month that while Israel and Hizbullah were engaged in a warfare last summer, Bishara, who has resigned from Israel's parliament, passed on to Hizbullah sensitive information and suggested ways of causing more harm to the Jewish state.
"I categorically and absolutely deny this," Nasrallah said in an interview with the Iranian state television's Arabic-language station, Al-Alam, on Sunday.
"All the accusations about contacts and giving information to Hizbullah are not true," Nasrallah added.
Bishara left Israel a month earlier after being grilled twice by investigators and later resigned his parliament seat. Police said he would be arrested immediately if he returns to Israel. Nasrallah said Bishara was being pursued for his positions by a government in Israel which wants "to settle scores."
"He's (Bishara) not of use to be an informant," Nasrallah ridiculed. "His personality is not that of an informant. ... He is a well-known man, a thinker with a cause who says his conviction and ideas with known courage," Nasrallah added. "They are holding him accountable for his political ideas."
Bishara, who has appeared on several Arab satellite stations over the years, has antagonized many Jewish Israelis by meeting with some of Israel's bitterest enemies, including the leaders of Syria and Hizbullah, since joining parliament in 1996. A Christian from the Israeli town of Nazareth, he frequently speaks out in favor of Palestinian rights.
Israel was "fed up with him (Bishara) so they fabricated those accusations against him," Nasrallah stressed. In an interview earlier this month from Amman, Jordan, Bishara said he was a victim of political persecution. Bishara has pledged to come back to face his accusers, but did not say when he would return to Israel.
The July-August war between Hizbullah and Israel erupted following a cross-border attack that left three Israeli soldiers killed and two others captured.
Israel responded with a massive bombardment of Lebanon and a ground offensive, and Hizbullah lobbed several thousands rockets into Israel. An Israeli commission report last week sharply criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the war's failure, triggering calls for his resignation. Hizbullah has refused to release the two soldiers without a package deal to exchange them for Arab prisoners held by Israel. Nasrallah disclosed Sunday that there has been progress on the prisoners' case but was vague in his comments. "It is on the way to be solved. It's just a matter of time," he said.
Israel and Hezbollah have had prisoner swaps in the past.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 May 07, 09:58

Hariri Congratulates Sarkozy
Legislator Saad Hariri, son of slain ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, has sent a congratulatory message to Nicolas Sarkozy for his French presidential victory.
Hariri said Sunday he was "confident that the historic relations between Lebanon and France will continue developing on the political, economic and cultural levels during your presidency." Sarkozy defeated Segolene Royal by 53.06 percent to 46.94 percent with 84 percent turnout, according to final results released in Paris early Monday. Sarkozy will take over from Jacques Chirac, who held the presidency for 12 years, on May 16.
Rafik Hariri had been a friend of Chirac, who has been leading efforts to support Premier Fouad Saniora's government and create an international tribunal to try the former prime minister's suspected assassins.(AP-Naharnet) Beirut, 07 May 07, 08:58

International Measures Underway to Resolve Shabaa Farms Dispute
Measures were reportedly underway on Sunday to settle the issue of the disputed Israeli-occupied Shabaa Farms area which would open the way toward deciding on the fate of Hizbullah weapons. The front page of the daily An Nahar said there is "international" concern toward solving the issue of the Shabaa Farms which lies at the convergence of the Lebanese-Syrian-Israeli borders. Israel captured the area from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
"Field as well as political preparations are underway in this direction" to meet Lebanon's demand, An Nahar said.
Citing circles following up on the issue, An Nahar said that resolving the Shabaa Farms' dispute would leave "the door wide open toward finalizing the fate of Hizbullah arms." Resolution 1701, which led to the August 14 truce that ended a month of warfare between Israel and Hizbullah, calls for the disarmament of all groups in Lebanon. Meanwhile, resigned Hizbullah cabinet minister Mohammed Fneish contradicted Hizbullah's earlier stance, saying the Shiite group "disagreed" on a seven-point plan adopted by Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government to end Israel's summer war on Lebanon.
"The resigned ministers did not agree on the cabinet's seven-point plan … and there was no consensus in the cabinet" on the issue, Fneish said in remarks published Sunday by Al Mustaqbal newspaper. "We have agreed to consider these points in cabinet, discuss content in detail and mechanisms required for implementation," Fneish said. He stressed, however, that "we did not agree on these points, particularly on the two points regarding the role and future of the resistance," he added.
Hizbullah had assented to the seven-point comprehensive cease-fire plan put forward by Saniora soon after Israel's summer offensive began.
Saniora said last month that Lebanon wants to place Shabaa Farms under U.N. jurisdiction since Syria has refused to cooperate on the issue.
The controversy over Shabaa Farms arose following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Southern Lebanon on May 25, 2000. In June 2000, the U.N. affirmed that Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon, in accordance with Resolution 425 and U.N. cartographers determined that Shabaa was part of Syria.
Hizbullah cites the ongoing occupation of Shabaa Farms as the basis for its continued attacks on Israel.
In June 2006, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan sent a letter to Saniora saying that in order to transfer the sovereignty of Shabaa Farms to Lebanon there should be a border delineation agreement between Lebanon and Syria. However, Syrian President Bashar Assad has refused to do so until Israeli troops withdraw.
Beirut, 06 May 07, 07:36

LIC/Lebanese Information Cebtre
Sparing Lebanon Further Bloodshed

By Adib Farha* - Senior Policy Adviser of the Lebanese Information Center and the American Lebanese Coalition
May 3, 2007
Wichita, Kansas, May 3, 2007- Efforts to prevent the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from responding to the request from Lebanon’s democratic government for the establishment of a tribunal of international character to try those who are accused of the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others must not succeed. US and international support is needed to enable the Lebanese people to learn the truth behind this crime and to put to an end forever political assassination as a means to deny Lebanon its sovereignty and independence.
On 29 March 2006, UNSC Resolution 1664 instructed the Secretary General of the United Nations to negotiate an agreement with the Government of Lebanon aimed at establishing the Tribunal. That Resolution was later reaffirmed in three UNSC presidential statements- the unanimous voice of the 15 member Security Council-, reaffirmed that resolution and aimed to deter further acts of terrorism. Sadly, the killings have not stopped and the Lebanese people have watched in horror as their country’s most admired voices for democracy have been targeted and killed.
Lebanese political groups allied with those suspected of these killings have undertaken a series of actions to destabilize the country, including:
Preventing the Lebanese Parliament from meeting as required by the country’s constitution to prevent its members from endorsing the establishment of the Tribunal,
Diluting the jurisdiction and the powers of the Tribunal to protect those who have carried out these acts of terrorism and to respond to Lebanese groups afraid that their own misdeeds may also be subject to the tribunal (a fallacious assumption from the beginning)
Stalling the establishment of the Tribunal with the hope that regional political developments may force members of the UNSC to abandon their support for it.
Trying to force a collapse of the legitimate and constitutional Government of Lebanon: Five members of the Government who are allies of the Syrian and of the Iranian regimes tendered their resignation in an effort to coerce the Prime Minister and his Government into resigning.
Paralyzing economic growth and provoking civic strife: The opposition’s sit-in in Beirut’s central district that began on December 1, 2006 continues to undermine Lebanon’s economic recovery after the war. More than 70 businesses have closed with 500 jobs lost.
Those responsible for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and of the others will stop at nothing to prevent the Tribunal from becoming a reality, including further acts of terrorism, precipitating renewed civil war, paralyzing the economy, and creating a power vacuum that would throw the country into chaos and into anarchy.
The establishment of the Tribunal would:
Uphold international justice and the moral obligation of the international community to do so.
Reiterate and reinforce the credibility and the impartiality of international law.
Protect peace and stability in Lebanon by preventing further assassinations.
Decrease tension in Lebanon, by taking the issue of the Tribunal "off the table" of Lebanese internal discussion.
Respect the will of the majority of the Lebanese people as expressed by the position presented to the UN Secretary General through his Personal Representative in Lebanon in a letter signed by 70 out of 128 Members of Parliament.
The United Nations Security Council should move without further delay to implement all relevant UNSC resolutions and impose any and all powers within the United Nations Charter to expedite the enactment of the Tribunal and prevent the dire consequences of the tenuous and dangerous status quo in Lebanon.
If Lebanon’s democratic institutions are prevented through coercion, abuse of power or constitutional shenanigans from endorsing the Tribunal, the Tribunal may have to be established pursuant to Chapter VII of the said Charter.
Lebanon must be spared further bloodshed.
*Adib Farha is the Senior Policy Adviser of the American Lebanese Coalition and the Lebanese Information Center. He had been an adviser to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora when Mr. Siniora was Lebanon’s Minister of Finance.
© 2007 Lebanese Information Center –

Beware the Siren Lebanon
International Herald Tribune
Stephan Erlanger
Published May 5, 2007
JERUSALEM: ARIEL SHARON wakes up from his long coma in a sweat and says he's had a terrible nightmare. "What was it?" ask his aides. "I dreamed we were back in Lebanon."
The bitter joke, which has been making the rounds here since the war against Hezbollah last summer, goes to the heart of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's broken career. For a quarter-century, Lebanon has been the graveyard of Israeli politicians reckless enough to venture there. Some, like Menachem Begin, never emerged again. That may be the fate of Olmert. A government commission issued a scathing first report last week on his leadership during the first five days of the war. A final segment, due some time this summer, may well urge him to resign. His foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, has already said he should.
Some politicians, like Sharon, managed to stagger out of Lebanon and eventually revive despite, in his case, having been labeled by many a war criminal for not preventing or halting massacres of Palestinians by Israel's Lebanese Christian allies. When he did emerge, his famous impetuosity was seared away. In a sense, it was the nightmare of Lebanon that had taught Sharon patience and allowed him to become a statesman in his second career.
Ehud Barak, the former Labor Party prime minister, hopes for just such a resurrection.
It was Barak who suddenly pulled Israel out of Lebanon in 2000 to concentrate — in vain — on efforts to make peace first with Syria and then with the Palestinians. But his was a unilateral act, and neither he nor his successors reinforced it with the retaliation he had promised Hezbollah if it violated the border. Many Israelis now believe the combination made last summer's war inevitable.
"Lebanon has significantly harmed or destroyed the political careers of nearly every Israeli politician that has touched it," said Chuck Freilich, formerly Israel's deputy national security adviser and now at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "The reason is not simply the nature of Lebanon, but the nature of Israeli decision-making in the last few decades, which has been shortsighted, focused on the immediate future and not part of a thought-out strategy."
But there is also a broader question of what might work in the specific conundrum of Lebanon. A sectarian patchwork of a state without a powerful central government or army, Lebanon has always been riven by religion and ethnicity and dominated by external forces like Syria or externally sponsored ones like Hezbollah and, before it, the Palestine Liberation Organization.
In trying to attack its enemies within Lebanon, Israel has always come up against the difficulties of conventional warfare against nonstate actors taking refuge in a semi-state.
Mark Heller, director of research for the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, notes that Lebanon itself was never an enemy, "but a theater in which the enemy operates" without a central address.
So Lebanon has become a marker, he said, for "the inability of the Israeli public in general, and the political system in particular, to adapt to the fact that it can't hold governments and armies to the same standards in Lebanon that it was holding them to before 1982 — before Lebanon."
In 1982, Sharon, as defense minister, pressed Begin into a full-scale attack on the PLO and Yasser Arafat, to deny them Lebanon as a theater of operations for attacks on Israel.
At first, the war went spectacularly well, and Arafat had to slink off to Tunis. But Sharon and Israel fell victim to the classic trap of assuming that Lebanon could be restructured to Israel's liking. The hand-picked Christian president, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated nine days before he was to take office; the initially welcoming Shiites of southern Lebanon revolted against their occupiers. Hezbollah, with the help of Iran, took hold.
Clinton Bailey, an Israeli scholar of the Bedouin culture, was an Israeli intelligence officer at the time. As he and I traveled to the Awali River in 1983, he told me: "We knew where the Palestinians had every gun — in this building, on the second floor, third window from the left. But what we didn't know was that the Shiites would turn against us."
Israel's occupation lasted 18 years, testimony to a continuing illusion of what it might be possible to accomplish, if only the Lebanese could be freed from outside pressures like Syria and Iran to follow their own self-interest. Of course, that never happened.
So what made Olmert's war so astonishing was that despite his long apprenticeship to Sharon, he bought all the old assumptions about Lebanon, hoping to have a masterstroke against Hezbollah by turning the central government of Fuad Siniora against it. Instead, the Israeli decision to bomb all over Lebanon, and not just Hezbollah targets in the south, weakened Siniora.
Given his Lebanese trauma, most Israelis believe, Sharon would not have gone to war. He would have responded, "but in a limited way, and in his own time, and in a way that would hurt the other side — Hezbollah — and not the Lebanese government," said Shlomo Avineri, a political scientist at Hebrew University. Sharon used to say: "As far as action on the border with Lebanon goes: don't do whatever doesn't need to be done."
The inexperienced, incurious Olmert "didn't realize he was getting into a real war," Avineri said. Rather, the parliamentary committee found, "The prime minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him and without asking for one."
As damning, the report said, "His decision was made without close study of the complex features of the Lebanon front and of the military, political and diplomatic options available to Israel." Amnon Rubinstein, a former legislator and cabinet minister who is now at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, said simply: "Lebanon is a swamp; that's why all the answers are sticky.""Olmert is blamed," he said, "but he had no good alternatives to reach his stated goals."
Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, said, however, that it was easy for Olmert to be seduced by the claim that "air power alone can do it.""That thesis," Feldman said, "fell on very receptive ears, and for good reason — because the civilian and military leadership were traumatized by the 18 years in Lebanon." The half-hearted war, he said, "was precisely the heritage of the demons of Israel's previous experiences in Lebanon."

On the Line of Earthquakes
Zuheir Kseibati Al-Hayat - 07/05/07//
Starting today, the French have a new president for their Fifth Republic. There is nothing to fear from the fact that some of them will contest his legitimacy on walls or TV screens, after hot electoral campaigns; hot, but without insults, offense, or threats of shootings or a 'bloody battle' as in Lebanon.
The question is not whether one can compare Lebanese politicians' boasting about their democracy with France's liberal one, which was for ages a 'mother' to some of them, while most of them today even dissent on the father's sex.
Had the Taif Agreement Constitution, which has not been spared from manipulations, been applied gradually, the sectarian concord democracy would have faded. How can this happen if Lebanon's destiny is again threatened - always on the line of earthquakes - and the election of the new president requires 'constitutional' pretexts and counter-pretexts tailored for those preparing to get dressed for the battle on the eve of its outbreak?
It is not possible to compare France's liberal democracy with the one in Lebanon, as some Lebanese politicians are warning about their country being driven to 'hell' if its paralysis and inactivity affect the election of a successor to President Emile Lahoud, and if fears of the creation of two governments and presidents come true. Perhaps the country will go even further than hell if some 'Neronians' fail to contain their haste to achieve their own victory, far from what is required by the final battle to rescue the country from division.
Although no one denies that the opposition, which failed to bring down the government, has kept its promises not to undermine the state of peace that has witnessed grave security breaches, no one in the March 8 and March 14 Forces overlooks the fact that the presidential elections will be the turning point in this crisis that has been deteriorating since the summer of 2006. Either the parties resign themselves to the election of a president from outside the two 'military camps', capable of keeping abreast with the stage of 'normalization' between Lebanon and international resolutions, or they will be facing a vacuum and the unknown. Such a situation would create at least two Lebanons: one condemned to spin in the orbit of the Syrian-Iranian coalition; the other accused by the opposition of being an object originating from US-French policy.
Since the opposition has not achieved any breakthrough in the 'participation' battle, the Siniora government is firmly resisting behind the large sit-in in the heart of Beirut, and the 'battle' to set the International Tribunal to try the killers of Rafik Hariri will be taken away from the internal conflict and transferred to the Security Council. It goes without saying that the opposition will try to turn the election of the new Head of State into the venue of its first victory.
The internal conflict over the elections has been marked by increasingly 'polite' exchanges of fire after a short appeasement. Along with this, foreign actors are once more not scaling down their calculations, or at least where those who are waiting are concerned, on the line of earthquakes, for either France's new policy, the US's policy of opening up to Damascus and Tehran, or even what is believed to be a Syrian-Iranian race to hold talks with Washington in the age of the forced co-existence between the Bush administration and the Democrats, who are opposed to an approach based on a 'preventive' attack on 'rogue' parties.
The election of the president in Lebanon will certainly not wait for the results of the US test of what is referred to in Washington as Tehran and Damascus's conduct that will determine the destiny of the attempts to put an end to their isolation from the West. However, all the Lebanese people know that the big elector abroad has always been present in the rounds of presidential elections. They also know that the regional clash between the US's and Iran's axon will decide many things in the fight between the opposition and the loyalists in Lebanon. Therefore, the regional fog surrounding the elections is becoming thicker, while waiting for an unknown resolution at the last minute.
Therefore, it will not be strange to expect more 'polite' disputes between the two forces. More important, however, is that the 'password' circulated by the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, on his return from the Vatican, is the danger of hampering the presidential elections; that is to say, undermining the quorum during the pools, and ruling out the possibility of renouncing to the Taif Agreement by refusing General Michel Aoun's proposition to hold direct popular elections, which would turn the Second Republic into a presidential system.
Not only the General, but the entire opposition will find itself in a difficult situation if it tries to hamper the elections, since Christians, and in particular Maronites, who have been complaining about their marginalization for many years, will blame Hezbollah and its coalition, with Aoun, for the consequence of causing Lebanon's division, even if no single bullet were shot.
If the two-government and two-leader experience, which followed President Amine Gemayel's age, occurred again in light of the current regional and international conditions, it would put an end to the united Lebanon, perhaps forever this time, especially after local parties have failed to contain the attempt to Arabize the solutions. No one rational in the region is betting on love between the great elector and the Lebanese 'diversity', and on the coexistence of cultures and sects as much as to push this elector to send his troops to impose unity on Lebanon through the use of force
Obviously, the first conclusion is to avoid Christians' division over the elections. This is an unavoidable condition in order for the two camps to agree on the new president. On the other hand, threatening with 'everything licit', 'words upon words', and 'tiling the sea' will not simplify the Lebanese people's hard mission to create one last chance to reach a solution.
President Siniora, who is always an optimist while confronting the pessimists, says that Lebanon has always been 'on the line of earthquake' like scotch ball: the more strongly it is launched, the more vital it becomes. Who will it return to this time