NSC advised exiting Lebanon four days into war
One of the most important facts to emerge from Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's testimony before the Winograd Committee was that she had urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to make the Second Lebanon War as short as possible. It turns out, however, that Livni was not the only one to urge this: On July 16, four days after the war started, the National Security Council recommended in a document that the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon be wrapped up as quickly as possible, as most of the possible objectives had already been met.
In retrospect, however, it is evident that no serious discussion was ever held over recommendations to shorten the war.
A similar recommendation was made to Defense Minister Amir Peretz. The person who made it, David Ivri, was a former commander of the air force and director general of the Defense Ministry. However, it is now known that Ivri's recommendation was never raised in the "forum of seven," which included the deputy prime ministers and Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter. The defense minister also failed to present Ivri's proposal to the security cabinet.
In contrast, it is known that the Foreign Ministry held internal discussions over an "exit strategy" from the war. However, the conclusions of its deliberations were sent to neither the security cabinet nor the ministers who comprised the "forum of seven."
It appears that the first proposal to shorten the war in Lebanon was the one prepared by the National Security Council. Its document of July 16 did not include a plan for how to end the war; rather, it focused mainly on the war's objectives and whether they had been met. The document stated from a realistic perspective, most of the possible objectives had been met by that time. Therefore, it was advisable to end the war.
At that point, international public opinion was still understanding of Israel's response to Hezbollah's cross-border raid, in which the organization killed and abducted soldiers inside Israeli territory while bombarding Israeli communities in the north. Even many Arab states were understanding of the Israeli response at that time.