Israel has agreed to

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Israel has agreed to some sort of cessation of hostilities, on a very limited basis, but it’s not clear to me exactly what Israel agreed to do or not do.

From the NYT (emphasis added):

Late Sunday, Israel agreed to suspend its airstrikes for 48 hours while it investigates the bombing of Qana, a State Department spokesman said. The spokesman, Adam Ereli, told reporters in Jerusalem that Israel would coordinate with the United Nations to provide a 24-hour period during which residents of southern Lebanon could leave area safely.

From Haaretz (emphasis added):

Even though the prime minister announced that Israel will continue its attacks against Hezbollah, even after the sad incident at Qana, and will not accept the demand for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire – he did accede to the American request to limit air-force operations in the area of Beirut. This will be done on condition that Hezbollah will not expand its attacks against other towns in Israel, as its leader, Nasrallah, has recently threatened. . . .

The American request regarding the air force’s activities in Beirut was actually made several days ago. Israel was told that this recommendation came from President Bush. Indeed, aerial operations over the Lebanese capital have slowed substantially, with no connection to the unfortunate events at Qana.

Israel was warned that in spite the fact that it is known that in a particular quarter in Beirut (Dahiya in the south), there are tunnels, and that in the main underground command center of Hezbollah, its leaders are hiding – the fact that the city is now full of refugees should be taken into account. A single mistake in a bombing raid would be enough to injure a multitude of civilians.

After what happened in Qana it is logical that the slowdown in air-force action in the skies over Beirut will continue, except if Hezbollah tries to attack other Israeli cities with long-range missiles.

So which is it? Has Israel ceased air operations throughout Lebanon or just in the Beirut area? Could the answer have something to do with the fact that a State Department official traveling with Rice announced the 48-hour delay? What has the Israeli government said?

Update: According to the Jerusalem Post, “The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the report.” Well, confirming news reports of what an American official publicly said about what Israel privately agreed to is not the same thing as Israel publicly saying what it agreed to. So the jury is still out . . .

Late Update: Something’s up. I had missed this earlier, but the Washington Post reported, “There was no announcement from the Israeli government about the suspension.”

Later Update: CNN reporting that an Israeli official confirms that Israel has agreed to a 48-hour stop to bombing in southern Lebanon.

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David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

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