Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Memo to Israel (and the neocons): brute force doesn't work
Italy's foreign minister has a message for the Israelis, and their patrons in Washington:
ROME - If the planned multinational force in Lebanon succeeds, it might be possible to create a similar force for the Gaza Strip, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said in an interview with Haaretz.

D'Alema said that America's aggressive approach to the Middle East, which Israel shares, has failed, and has caused serious damage. Now, he said, Italy and Europe must prove to Israelis that only international intervention can bring them security.

D'Alema is considered the driving force behind Italy's decision to contribute 3,000 soldiers to a beefed-up UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), thereby making it the largest western contributor to the force.

But the Italian foreign minister, who met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Rome on Thursday, said that the multinational force can only help the government of Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah. This matter "essentially depends" solely on the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, he said, and will certainly not be done through force.

He also claimed that it would be "simplistic" to describe Hezbollah solely as a terrorist organization. "Were Hezbollah merely a small terrorist group, it would not enjoy the support of so many Lebanese," he said. "Even Tzipi Livni says that if Hezbollah becomes a political organization, this will be a success, and I agree with her."
Of course, you won't get much out of an Israeli daily without cueing up some echoes of anti-Israelism from the darned Europeans:
D'Alema is president of the Democrats of the Left, and was also a senior figure in the party's earlier incarnation as the Communist Party. Many on the Italian right and in Italy's Jewish community view the party as hostile to Israel, particularly in view of the great support that Israel received from former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Italian foreign minister's views are clearly not supportive of the Israeli government. Nevertheless, he expressed concern for Israel during the interview.

"We are sending our soldiers to Lebanon and endangering their lives out of love for Israel. We have no interests in Lebanon; this is supposed to be a step that creates peace. And that is in Israel's interest," D'Alema said.
Bingo.

And D'Alema got in a shot at the decline of American and English credibility in the Mideast:
Analysts say D'Alema understood the United States cannot mediate in Lebanon. The French are hesitant, the British are considered too pro-American, and the Germans do not want to get involved in a delicate situation. He is therefore pushing for Italy to take advantage of the vacuum.

Meanwhile, France continues to "pedal baque" on the very idea of a 15,000-strong UNIFIL force:
...Mr Chirac, giving a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters: "I don't know who mentioned this figure but it doesn't really make sense.

"So what is the right number, 4,000, 5,000 or 6,000? I don't know."

Non, indeed.

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon, Italy
posted by JReid @ 8:48 AM  
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