The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday that calls for a halt to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and authorizes the deployment of 15,000 foreign troops to help the Lebanese army take control of southern Lebanon.
The resolution calls on Israel to begin withdrawing all its forces from Lebanon "in parallel" with the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers and 15,000 additional Lebanese troops. It gives the international force the mandate to use firepower but no explicit role in disarming Hezbollah, leaving the fate of the Lebanese militia to a future political settlement.
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.
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."
As nice as it might be to have an immediate cessation of the hostilities, the truth is even if all sides wanted it, it wouldn't happen. It'll be some time before either side can untangle themselves from fighting with each other, and in fact Israel seems to have gone ahead and carried out the expanded ground offensive they've been promising for days now despite the vote. I would also like to believe that Rice is not extending the green light to continue the bombings into Lebanon, and the administration's hesitency in speeding up shipments of short-range anti-personnel cluster munitions may be some indication that they're trying to reign in the conflict, however weakly.