Britain criticises Israeli tactics

The Observer | World | Britain criticises Israeli tactics:

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

The remarks, made in Beirut today by the Foreign Office Minister, Kim Howells, were the first public criticism of the US voiced by Britain. The Observer can also reveal that Tony Blair urged restraint in a private telephone convseration with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last week.

Sources close to the Prime Minister said that Olmert replied that Israel faced a dire security threat from the Hizbollah militia and was determined to do everything necessary to defeat it.

Britain's policy shift came as Israeli tanks and warplanes pounded targets across the border in south Lebanon today ahead of an immenently 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 Blair still believed Israel had every right to respond to the missile threat, and held the Shia militia responsible for provoking the cirisis by abducting two Israeli soldiers and shelling 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 missile-hit areas of Haifa and meet his Israeli opposite-number, Howell 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 shocking silence from No 10

The shocking silence from No 10 - Comment - Times Online:

Mr Blair, by his silence, seems to be endorsing the US line: allow Israel at least another week to take action against Hezbollah before any calls for a ceasefire are made. He would doubtless argue that, unless he is supportive of the Israelis publicly, he will have no traction with them privately. Yet there are two big problems with this approach.

First, the UK has little traction with Israel anyway. Mr Blair had a frank private conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, when he visited Britain last month. It doesn’t seem to have done much good.

Secondly, and more importantly, Mr Blair’s silence is sending a strong message to the world’s — and particularly Britain’s — Muslim community. By failing to condemn Israel’s overreaction, he is allying himself with those acts. What more powerful ammunition could there be for the radicalisers of Britain’s young Muslims? “Your Government doesn’t care about you and your fellow believers. You need to take action to defend them in this noble cause.”

It is a terrifying prospect. Mr Blair is endangering our nation’s internal security by his reluctance to move a millimetre from the US stance. Even if he is engaging in private diplomacy with Israel, it is not without serious costs to the rest of us. Long after he leaves government, we may be paying the price.


No, this is not 'our war'

WorldNetDaily: No, this is not 'our war':

"My country has been 'torn to shreds,' said Fouad Siniora, the prime minister of Lebanon, as the death toll among his people passed 300 civilian dead, 1,000 wounded, with half a million homeless.

Israel must pay for the 'barbaric destruction,' said Siniora.

To the contrary, says columnist Lawrence Kudlow, 'Israel is doing the Lord's work.'

On American TV, former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the ruination of Lebanon is Hezbollah's doing. But is it Hezbollah that is using U.S.-built F-16s, with precision-guided bombs and 155-mm artillery pieces to wreak death and devastation on Lebanon?

No, Israel is doing this, with the blessing and without a peep of protest from President Bush. And we wonder why they hate us.

Hussein Writes to Americans, Urging Iraqi Pullout

Hussein Writes to Americans, Urging Iraqi Pullout - New York Times:

“People of America, the misfortunes that have afflicted you and afflicted our Arab nation and within it our heroic people — including the breakdown of America’s standing and reputation — were only caused by the reckless behavior of your government and by pressure from Zionism,” Mr. Hussein wrote, according to a translation of the letter sent by e-mail to reporters.

“The massacres and blood that now flows in the streets and countryside of Iraq in torrents — the responsibility for that falls on America before all others,” he added.


In Break With Bush, Iraqi Leader Assails Israel

In Break With Bush, Iraqi Leader Assails Israel - New York Times:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq on Wednesday forcefully denounced the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, marking a sharp break with President Bush's position and highlighting the growing power of a Shiite Muslim identity across the Middle East.

'The Israeli attacks and airstrikes are completely destroying Lebanon's infrastructure,' Mr. Maliki said at an afternoon news conference inside the fortified Green Zone, which houses the American embassy and the seat of the Iraqi government. 'I condemn these aggressions and call on the Arab League foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo to take quick action to stop these aggressions. We call on the world to take quick stands to stop the Israeli aggression.'

Secrecy ruling by judge on Blair-Bush talk

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Secrecy ruling by judge on Blair-Bush talk:

democracy? freedom of the wha?

The public must be prevented from learning the contents of a conversation between Tony Blair and President George Bush about the conduct of the war in Iraq - crucial evidence in a forthcoming official secrets trial - an Old Bailey judge ruled yesterday.

Any discussion of an already partially leaked document - in which Mr Bush purportedly said in April 2004 that he wanted to bomb the Arabic satellite TV station al-Jazeera, and Mr Blair expressed concern about US military tactics in the Iraqi city of Falluja - must be heard behind closed doors, Mr Justice Aikens ruled. He also banned the public and the media from hearing the prosecution's arguments on the grounds of national security.