Israel and Lebanon agreed to accept the terms of the U.N. cease-fire, according to U.S. and U.N. diplomats. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will ask his cabinet to approve the resolution when it meets Sunday, according to Israeli officials. The Lebanese cabinet is scheduled to vote on it Saturday.
Boths sides look to ratify the resolution this weekend, with the next logical step a cessation of hostilities. That's how ceasefires work, right? Apparently, this ceasefire allows for lots of fire, for an unspecified time:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the cease-fire will not go into effect immediately. She said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will consult with Israel and Lebanon in the coming days to set a date for the cessation of hostilities.
"No one can expect an immediate end to all acts of violence," Rice said. She cautioned that "the conditions of a lasting peace must be nurtured over time."
The resolution provides the first significant hope for a gradual reduction in the violence
Call me thick, but a ceasefire agreement usually means we can "expect an immediate end" to violence. Instead, we have a situation where the date of actual ceasefire is yet to be determined. So, we have a ceasefire, but we still need negotiations to agree on the ceasefire, and even then it will only be gradual ceasefire. My head hurts.
I see many scenarios where this formula completely unravels. If both sides agree to the framework, why not an immediate ceasefire? The delay suggests that there is still much to be clarified, which contradicts the back-slapping optimism at the U.N. This conflict isn't over, not by a long shot.
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah says the guerilla organization will follow the terms of a UN ceasefire, but will keep fighting until Israeli troops pull out of southern Lebanon.
Israeli Army Chief Halut:
Halut pledged the roughly 30,000 Israeli troops currently in Lebanon will stay put until an international force arrives.
Israel won't leave until there is an international force in place, while Hezbollah vows to fight until Israel withdraws. Given the practical obstacles, a UN force can't be put on the ground for weeks, so it would seem a ceasefire still remains a distant hope.
Peter Mckay offers his usual insightful commentary:
Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Canada welcomed the UN resolution, calling it "the most important political development since the beginning of the conflict."
Or, maybe the only political development? I'm sure Canada was instrumental in these talks and will play a vital role as we move forward. Cough.