UPDATE, 6 August: I corrected an error below. Thanks to Alex for pointing it out. (The value of peer review on blogs!) Chris has raised an interesting question, also at the propagation bench, to which I responded quickly on Friday afternoon. I have now revised and extended my remarks in that comment.
In some respects, the Haaretz headline and story are unremarkable. Israel has a democratic form of government, after all–and the most democratic subtype, a multiparty-majority coalition; moreover, the prime minister and defense minister are the leaders of different political parties. The policy disagreements that are inevitable in such a set-up lead to a more effective and democratic form of checks and balances than the kind that goes by that term in the USAmerican presidential system.
Still, it is interesting that Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Labor) is reported to favor “expanding the incursion”* all the way to the Litani River. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Kadima), on the other hand, believes that holding ground in southern Lebanon is beside the point, in that it will not achieve their shared aim of solving the problem of Hezbollah’s rocket-firing capabilities. Indeed it is beside the point, but it is not as if Olmert’s shock and awe is–or could be–any more effective at stopping the firing of rockets that can be stored and launched from virtually anywhere in southern Lebanon. If the goal was preventing rockets being fired, then the government had to refrain from such massive retaliation for the captpuring of two soldiers.
Also interesting on internal (mainly internal to the Defense Ministry and IDF) discussions on strategy is a piece by Amir Owen. Key passage:
Two forces of nature influenced all of Israel’s wars: time and America. The two are really one.
Too long to excerpt or summarize adequately, but a very interesting article.
*a sort-of-nice-speak phrase for invasion and occupation.