After Israel’s declaration that its decision to continue its assault on Lebanon had been endorsed by the 15-nation summit in Rome earlier this week, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country  currently holds the rotating EU presidency, emphatically stated that Israel had misread the outcome of the conference.

Erkki Tuomioja  asserted that the Israeli government’s interpretation of the summit’s declaration as permission to continue their offensive is "their own and wrong interpretation."

The summit’s final statement called for a United Nations force to be deployed in southern Lebanon to aid the country in implementing UN decisions on disarming Hezbollah. The statement also called for increased humanitarian aid to Lebanon.

In fact, it was only Britain and the US that rejected Lebanon’s demand for a ceasefire,  despite the mounting death toll (over 600) and warnings that Lebanon is facing a humanitarian catastrophe, with much of its infrastructure in  ruins, hundreds of thousands of thousands fleeing their homes and  increasing shortages of food and medicines. Their  vote resulted in the failure of the summit to reach an agreement  to a ceasefire.

Even so, today a senior State Department official described as "outrageous" a suggestion that the Rome Conference gave a green light to pursue its offensive in

"Any such statement is outrageous," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli when asked about reports quoting Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon as saying the Rome meeting earlier this week gave approval..

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said,   "Yesterday in Rome we in effect obtained the authorisation to  continue our operations until Hezbollah is no longer present in  southern Lebanon".

Washington, ‘s closest ally, infuriated Arab opinion by  blocking calls at the Rome meeting for an immediate ceasefire and  instead calling for efforts to reach a "sustainable" truce.

Israel was poised Friday to intensify its offensive against , calling up thousands  more reservists after claiming it had won the green light from the  world to crush Hezbollah.

*sourced from The Daily Star, Ha’Aretz