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Israelis Wonder Who Won
Israel Faxx News Services

Israelis are divided on whether their country won the Lebanon war, a poll found. Thirty percent of those polled by Yedioth Ahronoth this week said Israel won the month long war, while an equal number said Hizbullah won. Thirty-six percent said neither side won. Seventy percent of respondents said they were against the ceasefire declared this week, as it did not guarantee the return of two soldiers whose July 12 abduction by Hizbullah triggered Israel's offensive in Lebanon. The survey gave Israel's leaders poor grades for performance. The survey, published Wednesday, had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Is an International Peacekeeping Force Being Assembled?

By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem) &

The Lebanese defense ministers told an Arabic newspaper Wednesday that there is no need to disarm Hizbullah terrorists because "the only weapons that there will be in southern Lebanon at those of the Lebanese army." Alias Al Mar told Al Aharam that Hizbullah is cooperating with the Lebanese army, but he did not disclose details.

Lebanese media also are telling citizens that the IDF will pull all of its troops out this week despite Israel's insistence that soldiers will remain in southern Lebanon until an international force is deployed, regardless of how long it takes.

The Druze leader in Lebanon has asserted that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is attempting a takeover of the Lebanese government. Hizbullah already has two ministers in the Lebanese cabinet.

Walid Jumblatt told an Arabic newspaper based in London that Nasrallah's speech shows the leader of Hizbullah is aiming for a political coup. Nasrallah said that without his terrorist organization, Lebanon cannot defend itself.

The three-day-old truce in Lebanon continued to hold as diplomats scrambled to assemble an international peacekeeping force to police the ceasefire between Israel and Hizbullah terrorists. Israel's top general said some Israeli troops might have to stay in Lebanon for months to come.

Israel's Defense Forces chief, Air Force Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, told a parliamentary committee that some Israeli troops could stay in Lebanon for months - if it takes that long to get international peacekeepers into positions in southern Lebanon. Halutz made his comments as some Israeli units in Lebanon continued their drawdown of forces.

Israeli commanders had said they hoped to have Israeli troops out of Lebanon by the end of next week, but Halutz said Israel could stop withdrawing its troops altogether unless Lebanon's army deploys in southern Lebanon as called for by U.N. resolution 1701, passed last Friday by the Security Council.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Israeli officials about the deployment of the peacekeepers. In an interview with Israeli television, the U.N. chief said the deployment could be slower than expected. "We are trying to move them [international peacekeepers] as quickly as possible. Once we have deployed, it may take weeks or months, but we are trying to move them as quickly as we can."

Under the U.N.-mediated ceasefire, 13,000 peacekeepers will join the 2,000-member U.N. force already in Lebanon. The peacekeepers are supposed to help the Lebanese army demilitarize southern Lebanon and stop the flow of weapons to Hizbullah.

U.N. diplomats said they hoped to have the first contingent of 3,500 peacekeepers in Lebanon in two weeks, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel has been growing increasingly concerned about the delays.

Lebanese Ceasefire Plan in Jeopardy


The U.N. ceasefire plan is falling apart; leaving the possibility Hizbullah will re-arm itself while Israel's hands are tied by international pressure.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told CNN that the government has evidence that Iran and Syria already are supplying Hizbullah terrorists with more arms via Syria. The government is relying on United Nations Security Council resolution 1701 - the ceasefire - to solve the problem, but the agreement appears to have been followed by more problems than solutions.

France has provided the latest hitch in the deployment of the proposed international United Nations force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The French general in charge of UNIFIL was quoted in a French newspaper as saying that it could take up to a year to deploy the forces.

Paris has promised to send thousands of troops to lead the international force to carry out the ceasefire resolution, which requires "the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State."

However, the resolution also calls for "no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government," and Lebanon already has said it will not force Hizbullah give up its arms. The French defense minister also has said its forces will not take away arms from Hizbullah terrorist guerillas.

Thousands of French soldiers are on ships ready to sail to Lebanon, but the government now is backtracking, wanting a clear definition of its mandate and when soldiers can open fire, according to the Associated Press.

In a classic "chicken and egg" situation, the French government has said it does not want to commit how many soldiers it will send until other countries commit themselves. However, most nations have said they will act only after France takes the lead. Germany, a major European Union power, still is hesitating. The government has agreed in principle to send troops, but they may be deployed in non-sensitive areas to prevent the unwanted situation of German soldiers firing on Israeli troops or vice-versa.

Deployment of an international force is complicated by the presence of Hizbullah terrorists. Theoretically, the 18-mile swath of land south of the Litani River to the Israeli border would be manned by Lebanese troops, who have been absent for two decades from the area where Hizbullah have been firmly entrenched.

Hizbullah's terrorist guerillas have built up a powerful infrastructure of weapons, especially during the six years following Israel's rapid withdrawal in 2000. It also has established itself as the social benefactor to the predominately Shi'ite Muslim population, providing services in place of the government and making itself a de facto state within the country.

The Lebanese government is approaching a compromise solution that would leave Hizbullah armed on condition its weapons are concealed. This violates the UN resolution, which states in Paragraph 8 that southern Lebanon must remain free of armed groups other than the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL.

However, Arutz-7's Hillel Fendel noted, the situation is muddled by the presence of a contradictory clause; Paragraph 3 "emphasizes [as opposed to 'calls for' - ed.] the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory... so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon."

In any event, leaving Hizbullah armed keeps a status quo situation which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has insisted would not be tolerated.

The current UNIFIL generally has been acknowledged as ineffective in preventing Hizbullah terrorists from attacking Israel. He told BBC this week that if his forces see a ceasefire violation, "I call both parties... I beg them to stop." Evidence also has been produced that UNIFIL abetted Hizbullah in the abduction of IDF soldiers several years ago.

Israel has agreed to withdraw its troops in conjunction with the deployment of the new international UNIFIL force, which is to patrol along with the Lebanese army. The AP quoted unnamed IDF sources as saying the withdrawal could begin as early as Thursday. But the plan is dependent on the deployment of Lebanese troops, which so far have remained north of the Litani River. The Lebanese government has not been able to meet to discuss the deployment because of divisions within the government, which includes two representatives of the Hizbullah terrorist organization and another three ministers who are pro-Hizbullah.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack has explained the dilemma in the same language the American government used to rationalize the authority of the Hamas-led legislature in the Palestinian Authority (PA).

In response to a question asking why Lebanon does not take steps to disarm Hizbullah, McCormack replied, "Well, what we are saying is the Lebanese people have a choice. They have to decide their own politics."

Hizbullah arch-terrorist leader Hassan Nasrallah also has refused to give up his weapons. The IDF discovered many of them during the war, including advanced rockets, throughout southern Lebanon. Nasrallah, resting on the laurels of having prevented Israel from returning the two IDF soldiers his terrorists kidnapped, said in a televised speech Monday night that those calling for disarmament are guilty of "insensitivity and immorality."

The difficulty in distinguishing between civilians and Hizbullah terrorists also makes the U.N. plan more theoretical than practical, according to the Washington Post. "[Hizbullah] keeps its presence secret and many militia members are local residents who take up arms only when called on by their leaders," the Post writes. "Their departure has not been envisaged" Lebanese officials said, "and only the militia's officers and their weapons must be pulled back north of the Litani as part of the U.N. ceasefire."

"What are the alternatives you have come up with?" Nasrallah asked in his speech. "Can the Lebanese army and the United Nations troops step up to the plate to defend the nation? Haste and simplification are out of the question. We were ready and will always be ready for dialogue to extend the authority of the state. We are part of the government and a basic part of it."

Iran Leader Hails Hizbullah's "Victory for Islam"

By Reuters

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has sent a letter to Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah praising Hizbullah's "victory" over Israel as a victory for Islam.

"Your gift to the Muslim nation with your holy struggle and steadfastness is beyond the limits of my description," Khamenei said in the letter broadcast by the group's al-Manar television station late on Wednesday. "Your victory was a victory for Islam. You have forced your military supremacy against the Zionist enemy," it said.

Iran is a staunch supporter of Hizbullah, which fought a fierce 34-day war with Israel after capturing two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12. The war was brought to a halt by a U.N.-brokered truce on Monday.

Suha Arafat Marries


According to rumors, Yasir Arafat's widow has married the Tunisian president's brother-in-law, who was supposed to marry her sister, but chose Suha due to her large fortune

From now on say Suha al-Trablusi: Suha Arafat, widow of Yasir Arafat, secretly married Lahasn al-Trabulsi, the brother-in-law of the Tunisian president, a number of days ago, a Tunisian website reported.

As is fitting to the widow of the former Palestinian Authority chairman, this time Suha also married someone close to power. Al-Trablusi is the brother of Leila Ben Ali, who is the wife of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The sister and her husband gave their blessing to the marriage.

The marriage followed a wave of stubborn rumors in Tunisia, according to which al-Trablusi planned to marry Suha's sister. However, credible sources said that he divorced a few months ago to marry Suha and not her sister, and that one of the main reasons for the wedding is that is his interest in Suha's large fortune.

Two years ago, after Arafat's death, Suha was personally promised by Mahmoud Abbas' staff that she would receive $22 million a year, on the basis of an agreement Arafat himself sent to his wife while on his death bed – $11 million to cover her lifestyle in Paris for six months.

Abbas and Palestinian senior figures were forced to come to a deal with Suha, after she "created facts on the ground," in accordance with French law, and prevented PA members from visiting Arafat as he was dying, or to take decisions on disconnecting the life support machine, until she received her promise. PA senior figures concluded it was worth paying her and ending the episode.

The money given to Suha comes from the "secret fortune" of the PA, managed personally by the PA president. The fortune is worth around $4 billion, and is kept in a number of bank accounts – in Tel Aviv, London and Zurich.

Since Arafat's death, Suha refused to live in PA territory or any Arab capital other than Tunis, and enjoys close relations with the Tunisian president and his wife.

Hollywood Stars Blast Nasrallah


Heads of the film industry in Hollywood and prominent movie stars have signed a statement blaming Hamas and Hizbullah for terror activities in the Middle East, the war in Lebanon and for harming innocents.

Some 84 senior film industry members signed the statement, published in the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Among the signatories: Sylvester Stallone, James Woods, Bruce Willis, director Ridley Scott, tennis player Serena Williams, Nicole Kidman, Michael Douglas, Dennis Hopper, William Hurt, Josh Malina, Kelly Preston, Danny DeVito, Don Johnson and media tycoon Rupert Murdock.

The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles has been active since the start of fighting with an aim of drafting Hollywood stars to back Israel. During the war, Ehud Danoch, the consul general, initiated a mission aimed at enlisting support for Israel in Hollywood. The team was comprised of Israeli directors and producers in Hollywood.

The statement said that if terror around the world was not stopped, chaos would rule and innocents would continue to die. The statement called for terror to be stopped at any price.

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