UN-dermined: Olmert orders ground assault to push to the Litani (Update: UN agrees on resolution)

For reasons explained here, I got a sick feeling this morning when I saw this headline. Looks like Olmert did too because he’s finally given the order for a massive ground invasion to push Hezbollah back past the Litani River and hold southern Lebanon until UN peacekeepers arrive.

Assuming they ever do.

Olmert’s under tremendous pressure from three sides right now: the UN, which essentially wants to restore the status quo ante; the Israeli public, whose morale is finally starting to cool; and the military, which has accused him of being too timid and too enamored of air power. In fact, the IDF’s been begging him to give this order for days:

After 30 days of fighting, the war with Hizbullah seemed to be nearing its conclusion Thursday.

Just a day earlier, the situation had looked drastically different. The security cabinet had approved the army’s request to send thousands of troops up to the Litani River and beyond in an effort to destroy Hizbullah’s infrastructure and to stop the Katyusha attacks…

But then, under pressure from the US, Defense Minister Amir Peretz made a frantic call to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz and ordered him to stop the division in its tracks. “We need to give the diplomatic process one last chance,” Peretz told Halutz…

The IDF was disappointed. Senior officers said they had been looking forward to the fight. Reaching the Litani and eliminating Hizbullah from the villages on the way could have provided, senior officers believe, the victory that Israel has been trying to obtain since July 12.

Now they get their chance. No thanks to Bush, of course, who seems bent on forcing Israel to make the same mistake he stupidly made with Muqtada al-Sadr two years ago: letting a Shiite demagogue with an army behind him walk away in the interests of “reducing tension.” You see where that’s got us now.

Actually, there may be a fourth side pressuring Olmert: his own dovish foreign ministry, which, to his annoyance, seems to believe it has a mandate of its own.

A common problem among the diplomatic branches of western governments, it would seem.

Bolton says the UN is “very, very close” to a resolution and could vote as early as this afternoon, but a series of Fox News Alerts over the past hour or so suggests it won’t mean much. According to Fox, Israel will not “go along” with a resolution, particularly one that calls for an immediate ceasefire, and it won’t accept UNIFIL forces to monitor the ceasefire once it does come. Haaretz says the main sticking point isn’t a ceasefire but the timing of Israel’s withdrawal from the south, and that a retreat conducted in stages is the likeliest outcome. Gillermania:

When describing the Lebanese position, Gillerman was somewhat less enthused, insinuating that Beirut’s diplomacy was puerile: “Lebanon stands by the same position it has maintained thus far, a position that makes many demands that might even be called crybaby?”

IDF officials are disgusted as well:

The officials charged that the emerging resolution is very problematic for Israel, because it makes no provision for the immediate return of the kidnapped soldiers (it urges their return, but this is not one of the resolution’s operative clauses), includes no stringent supervisory mechanism to prevent a renewed flow of arms to Hezbollah, and does not guarantee the organization’s disarmament. “[Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah will continue to mock us, and in the end there will be another war,” said one.

He’s mocking them already. Former Likud FM Silvan Shalom also thinks it’s a snow job:

Speaking with Voice of Israel Radio on Friday morning, Minister Shalom said if the UN proposal is accepted, “Israel’s position would be worse than it was at the beginning of the war: It does not call for a large multi-national force in southern Lebanon, Hizbullah would not be disarmed, and a parallel is made between our abducted soldiers and murderous Lebanese terrorists held by Israel such as Samir Kuntar.”

“It could even be,” Shalom said, “that Syria might conclude that it can get the Golan Heights back by sending over some missiles to Israel.”

Exit question: if Israel does defy the resolution, will we see UN sanctions on Tel Aviv before we see them on Tehran?

Update: Proxymania!

Update: The IDF thinks it’ll be a week at least before they reach the river and then four to six weeks more to take care of Hezbollah. Will Olmert give them that long? JPost says as many as 40,000 troops could be deployed, which, per capita, is the equivalent of 1.7 million Americans.

Update: UK sources say the UN has finally agreed on a resolution. Olmert and Rice are discussing.

Update: A “very robust mandate” for the use of force.