- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 6, 2006

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council drew criticism from Lebanon and skepticism from Israel yesterday as the council began grappling with a draft U.S.-French resolution to end the fighting in Lebanon.

A Lebanese Foreign Ministry official, backed by Qatar, the only Arab council member, objected because the draft did not call for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and other measures.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council received the draft hours after the French-U.S. deal was announced and sent it to their respective governments to suggest any changes.

A vote could follow tomorrow or Tuesday, France’s U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said.

The draft resolution calls for a “full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.”

In Crawford, Texas, White House press secretary Tony Snow said President Bush supported the draft resolution and “he’s happy with it.”

But a Lebanese Foreign Ministry official, Nouhad Mahmoud, said “no” when asked whether Beirut supported the text, in part because the document does not call for immediate Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

Recognizing the difficulties, Washington’s U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton told reporters, “There is no one recipe that is going to bring this to a conclusion,” adding that diplomatic negotiations would have to be carried out by a variety of nations.

The principles include creation of a buffer zone in southern Lebanon, free of all but the Lebanese army and U.N.-mandated forces. They also call for the demarcation of Lebanon’s borders, including the Shebaa Farms area, now legally part of Syria.

Further, they call for an arms embargo that would block any weapons entering Lebanon except for those going to the Beirut government. The object is to prevent arms going to Hezbollah through the Syrian border.

The resolution calls for current U.N. peacekeepers — the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL — to monitor the truce.

But it does not call for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from south Lebanon and it allows Israel to respond to any Hezbollah attack.

Mr. Bolton said the cessation of hostilities had to be in the context of a “fundamental transformation of the issue in the region.”

“Otherwise, we will simply risk a repetition, as we have countless times before, without actually solving the problem,” he said.

Unknown is the fate of the two Israeli soldiers whose capture by Hezbollah sparked the conflict on July 12. France’s original text called for their release as well as the settlement of the issue of Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel. This provision was moved to the preamble of the text, where it has less weight.

Until Israel and Lebanon agree on a set of principles to end the conflict, a beefed-up international force would not be deployed in south Lebanon.

The force, which France is expected to lead, would be authorized in a follow-up resolution later this month.

Mr. Mahmoud, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry official, said the text must address the concerns of the Lebanese people. “Otherwise, it won’t fly.”

Among his concerns were that some 10,000 Israeli troops would remain in southern Lebanon and that Shebaa Farms, now part of Syria and occupied by Israel, would not be transferred to U.N. control as Lebanon had requested.

Qatar’s U.N. ambassador, Abdulaziz al-Nasser, agreed with Mr. Mahmoud and asked for “clarification” of why Lebanese prisoners held by Israel were not highlighted in the text.

Mohammed Fneish, a Hezbollah member of the Lebanese Cabinet, said fighting would continue until Israeli troops withdraw.

“Israel is the aggressor. When the Israeli aggression stops, Hezbollah simply will cease fire on the condition that no Israeli soldier remains inside Lebanese land,” he said.

In Israel, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said the fighting would continue for now, but the resolution signaled that the war would be of limited duration.

“We have the coming days for lots of military moves, but we have to realize the timetable is getting shorter,” he said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide