The Observer is reporting that Britain has “broken ranks” with the Bush administration on Lebanon. Although I think “breaking ranks” is an exaggeration, the comments by British foreign minister Kim Howells are worth quoting here.
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 conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last week.
Downing street sources told The Observer they had no quarrel with Howell’s comments, who is on his way to Israel after visiting Lebanon.
Speaking to a BBC reporter before traveling 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.'
He added: 'I very much hope that the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon.'
Do they understand what the Israelis are doing? Do the Israelis even understand that they're doing?
Here’s one of Peretz’s advisors talking to the Observer:
An adviser to the Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz told The Observer: 'We are finally going to fight Hizbollah on the ground. The Israeli people are ready for this and the Sunni Muslim world also expect us to fight Shia fundamentalism and we are going to deliver.'
So now Israel is fighting Shias on behalf of Sunnis? There might be some truth to this, given the tacit official support of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. But since when is Israel Saudi Arabia's regional SWAT team?
What a crazy world.
Victorino, this one is for you.