Turning Point

(Haaretz) Aluf Benn analyzes Israel's alternative policies for the continuation or cessation of its operation in Lebanon. Now is the time to plan an exit strategy to move from military actions to the political phase.

It seems that Israel is looking for a way to end the operation in Lebanon. The statements made by PM Olmert yesterday regarding the original targets of the operation are much less decisive.

The government needs to generate an exit strategy from the operation in order to announce a political achievement and to prevent an attrition war. Hizbullah's motivation, along with increasing international criticism of Israel on the killing of civilians in Lebanon, might erode the international support it has gained so far.

Policy Options:

  • Continuing the operation in its current format without sending ground troops, while taking political actions to weaken Hizbullah. This alternative will enable Israel to decrease rockets threat and to create a new arrangement in Lebanon in coordination with the international community.
  • Reaching a showcase achievement through a pin-pointed action, such as killing Nasrallah. This action will create a sense of national achievement for the Israeli public, but it depends on Israeli intelligence abilities.
  • Surrendering to "external pressure" within the expected visit of State Secretary Rice next week. This alternative will leave Israel without an achievement.
  • Ground-troops invasion that will create military victory on the ground and will prevent the rockets threat of hizbullah. This alternative may entail a high death-toll on the IDF's side.
  • Dilution of the original political targets and choosing less ambitious targets than restoring the sovereignty of the Lebanese government. This alternative is based on the limits of international support.

Source

Aluf Benn, Haaretz, 20/07/06, full text