Israeli tanks and troops in southern Lebanon have retreated and regrouped in Marjayoun, the only town in southern Lebanon that Israeli forces have managed to hold on to, while a major expansion of the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon was postponed apparently due to pressure from Washington.
The Israeli security cabinet had approved the expansion on Tuesday night, but recalled their decision on Thursday. The Israeli political leadership alleged that the decision was made to give few days for American diplomatic efforts underway to stop the war. But Hezbollah spokespeople said that the real reason for the standstill is that Israeli forces have been unable to hold any ground in their ongoing invasion of Lebanon.
Stymied by the resilience of the Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon, who have managed to keep the invading Israeli military to within five miles of the border, the ground troops regrouped Thursday night in Marjayoun. Despite repeated promises by Israeli military leadership that they would take fifteen miles of Lebanese territory in a matter of days, they have proved themselves unable to live up to that promise. After fifteen Israeli soldiers were killed by Hezbollah in on-the-ground fighting on Wednesday, the largest toll for Israelis in a single day since the war began nearly one month ago, the soldiers were forced to pull back.
Support for the war among Israelis has dropped from 80% to 54% in just a few days based on a poll conducted by the Ma’ariv website.
A new draft for a ceasefire plan currently being developed by French and U.S. officials is apparently hinging on four steps:
1. The deployment of international and Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon
2. The implementation of Resolution 1559 – a 1994 United Nations Resolution which called for the dismantlement and disarming of all "militia groups in Lebanon", by which was meant the disarming of Hezbollah
3. Negotiations on a prisoner swap between Israel and Lebanon
4. The establishment of a mechanism for future Israeli-Lebanese dealings
The new ceasefire proposal would replace an earlier proposal, which was rejected by Lebanon and the Arab League for its one-sidedness. British analyst Ahmad Samih Khalidi in a report in the British Guardian newspaper at the time the first draft was proposed, "The draft effectively gives immunity to Israel’s occupying forces, denies Hezbollah, or any other Lebanese party, the right to resist the continued violation of Lebanese sovereignty and soil, says not a word about an Israeli withdrawal, and does nothing to bring the population back to their homes and thus safeguard Lebanon’s domestic balance and political future".