24 July 2006

The poodle bites

British split with Bush as Israeli tanks roll in
· Minister attacks 'disproportionate' raids
· 2,000 troops cross into Lebanon

Ned Temko, Conal Urquhart in Tel Aviv and Peter Beaumont in Beirut
Sunday July 23 2006
The Observer

Britain dramatically broke ranks with George Bush last night over the Lebanon crisis, publicly criticising Israel's military tactics and urging America to 'understand' the price being paid by ordinary Lebanese civilians.

The remarks, made in Beirut by the Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells, were the first public criticism by this country of Israel's military campaign, and placed it at odds with Washington's strong support. The Observer can also reveal that Tony Blair voiced deep concern about the escalating violence during a private telephone conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last week. But sources close to Blair said Olmert had replied that Israel faced a dire security threat from the Hizbollah militia and was determined to do everything necessary to defeat it.

Britain's shift came as Israeli tanks and warplanes pounded targets across the border in southern Lebanon yesterday ahead of an imminently expected ground offensive to clear out nearby Hizbollah positions, which have been firing dozens of rockets onto towns and cities inside Israel.

Downing Street sources said last night that Blair still believed Israel had every right to respond to the missile threat, and held the Shia militia responsible for provoking the crisis by abducting two Israeli soldiers and firing rockets into Israel. But they said they had no quarrel with Howells's scathing denunciation of Israel's military tactics.

Speaking to a BBC reporter before travelling on for talks in Israel, where he will also visit the missile-hit areas of Haifa and meet his Israeli opposite number, Howells said: 'The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people: these have not been surgical strikes. If they are chasing Hizbollah, then go for Hizbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation.' The minister added: 'I very much hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon.'
The Americans probably do.

The American government...not so much.

The Brits have bailed and even the Iraqi puppet government that we created thinks our position is absurd.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has called on the US and Britain to change policies in order to bring about an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon.

Mr Maliki said the destruction had reached "unacceptable levels" and he would be using talks with Tony Blair in London to make it clear that he disagreed with the powers' tactics for dealing with the crisis.

Speaking through a translator, he said: "What I can say about what is happening now is that I can't find enough justification for what is happening here." He continued: "The destruction of the infrastructure is even not consistent with the rules of law, even if we can say that there is a war.
The Decider has yet to see a course that can't be stayed.

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