Lebanon's offer to deploy 15,000 troops along the border with Israel is "interesting" and worthy of further consideration, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday.
Israel has long demanded a deployment of Lebanese forces, along with the disarming of Hezbollah guerrillas.
However, it appeared Israeli leaders are reluctant to embrace Lebanon's offer more strongly because of concern it might be a ploy to get Israeli troops out of south Lebanon, without removing Hezbollah first.
Israel's response to the Lebanese offer - including an expected Cabinet decision today on whether to stage a massive new ground incursion - will depend on Lebanon's willingness to back its offer with action on the ground, Asaf Shariv, Olmert's chief spokesman, said.
"Basically in the Middle East you never (decide) based on talking. We should see actions, preparing something," he said. "Let's see what happens on the ground."
Israel appeared also to be concerned that the Lebanese army may not be strong enough on its own to prevent Hezbollah from attacking Israel.
Olmert reiterated Israel's desire to see Lebanese troops deployed along the border with Israel, but backed by a strong multi-national force.
"It looks interesting and we will examine it closely," Olmert said of the Lebanese offer.
"We said from the outset, naturally we would like to see Lebanese army... combined with strong military support that will come from other countries in south Lebanon," he added.
He reiterated that Israel has no intention of reoccupying south Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Israeli artillery pounded villages and hills throughout south Lebanon yesterday while a complete curfew was imposed on any civilians still trapped in the heart of the war zone.
Humanitarian convoys will be allowed in.