Compromise / Swallowing Bitter Pills

It is to be hoped that the United Nations Security Council will quickly pass the resolution ending the war in Lebanon in the spirit of the agreement revealed yesterday. Ehud Olmert must be encouraged to lead the cabinet firmly to adopt it.

This war broke out in no small way because of the Israeli leadership's lack of diplomatic-military experience and failure to predict the future. Olmert will have to be magnanimous in accepting the compromise taking shape internationally, because it will be an admission of Israel's inability to achieve its declared goals.

There is reason to believe he has this quality. He is not a cynic who, for reasons of prestige or other extraneous considerations, would take tens of thousands of soldiers into battle to risk their lives. The diplomatic solution, in spite of its limitations and the bitter pills to be swallowed, is preferable to expanding the war, since a new military move would not change the outcome of the armed conflict. Even if the military limits considerably Hezbollah's short-range Katyusha launch capabilities, it will not erase the impression that this organization has made in its challenge to Israel.

The country's leadership must use cool reason, and not be dragged along by inflamed desires and assessments. The longed-for military victory will not vaporize Hezbollah; the cost of the attempt - estimated at hundreds of additional losses to the IDF - will erode the authority of those who decided to implement it.

The security council formula provides, albeit barely, a basis to change Israel-Lebanon relations. Israel should make do with this and set about fundamentally repairing its relations with its neig hbors.

The leadership will have to pay the price of its initiation and management of this war. He who decides to fire the GOC Northern Command without taking into consideration that the fighting may be over in two days, proves that even after a month of fighting he has not learned to predict the future.