We’re encouraged at the events of the past couple of weeks. It is now in the interest of all parties to pursue a course of peace. The Lebanese need to rebuild, Hezbollah’s force looks disorganized—even dismantled, and the Israelis did not find a sure means of preventing missile attacks on its northern territories. So I expect the cease-fire to hold and anticipate (as I forecast some weeks ago) that troops from Turkey and Egypt (and possibly Jordan) to participate in the peace-keeping force in Lebanon.
The situation in Israel has returned to normal with citizens displaced from the north returning to their homes. All sites are open everywhere but without the crowded conditions we found in June. This looks good for my fall trips! Diminished numbers of tourists give us more room to roam. We’ll keep a close eye on the situation as always. Check in regularly for updates. For those of you deposited for my January 10-21, 2007 trip, if we have to cancel before November 11, you’ll get a full refund. But we don’t expect any cancellations. Let’s keep anticipating a grand time in the land of the Bible!
Watch for Rice’s gameplan to restore stability to southern Lebanon to be released in the next couple of days. We expect a ceasefire to be in place by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, Israeli forces to be replaced by a combat group (not an observation outfit!) from Turkey and other nations as the enforcer of peace. Hezbollah will probably welcome this development privately as it has successfully withstood several weeks of military assault and can withdraw having gained some political ground. But let’s rejoice that countless lives will have been spared with this very positive development.