A breakthrough in the negotiations has been made on the international arena between the French and US teams to reach an agreement on a UN resolution by Friday
The breakthrough is based on the inclusion in the call for a cessation of hostilities for a progressive Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory to go simultaneously with the deployment of the Lebanese army backed by reinforced UN peacekeepersreported Haaretz.
The reinforced UN peackeepers will primarily be backed by French soldiers. Moreover, the area south of the Litani river is to be devoid of Hizbullah guerillas and weapons.
It seems the Israeli maneuver of widening the ground invasion worked its magic. The threat has convinced the Lebanese government (and Hizbullah) to agree to a progressive Israeli withdrawal as opposed to calling for an immediate and complete withdrawal to end the fighting for fear of not reaching a solution. Israel showed that it is ready to take on more casualties by following through with a major escalation in the ground invasion. It's also worth noting that Saniora's initiative to send the Lebanese Army to the south had been a keystone in reaching the possible settlement.
So would it have been possible for both teams, Hizbullah and Israel, to have reached this same conclusion two weeks ago? I don't think it was. Both parties were pumped up with way too much ego, that it took two full weeks of bloody combat to realize neither group can win the military battle. Israel was banking on its ability to destroy Hizbullah in a swift invasion, but was proved wrong. Hizbullah was relying on internal pressure from within Israel to stop the invasion, and was also proved wrong.
I would hope that an agreement is reached by Friday. There are talks that such an agreement would also include details on resolving the Shebaa Farms issue. However, there has been no mentioning of the fate of the captured Israeli soldiers and Hizbullah fighters or the Lebanese prisoners yet.