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Reuters “The United States and France reached agreement on Saturday on a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an end to fighting between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas as the first step toward a political settlement of the conflict … The 15-member U.N. Security Council will receive the text and review it at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT), the United Nations announced. A vote is expected within the next few days. But two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the measure would allow Israel, which has troops in southern Lebanon, to respond to attacks launched by Hizbollah militia.”
Bangkok Post “UN sources said France had been persuaded by the US to abandon its insistence on an “immediate” suspension of hostilities. France had also made a further concession to the Americans in agreeing to emphasize Israel’s right to defend itself against any Hezbollah attack. Drafts of the resolution were not made immediately available but were being circulated among the other 13 council members.”
New York Times “The text was to be made public later today and the Security Council scheduled a meeting later in the afternoon to consider the matter. The French official said that the text called for a buffer zone to be set up free of all but the Lebanese Army and United Nations-mandated forces in southern Lebanon. The measure also called for all sides to respect the Blue Line border between Israel and Lebanon.”
Last Update: Sunday, August 6, 2006. 0:46am (AEST)
France and the United States have agreed on a proposed UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East conflict, French President Jacques Chirac’s office says.
“An accord has been found between the French and Americans on the draft resolution on the Middle East prepared by France to call for a complete cessation of hostilities and work towards permanent ceasefire and long-term solution,” the Elysee Palace said.
The resolution is to be submitted by France to the United Nations Security Council later Saturday “in the interest of securing the widest agreement,” it added, without revealing the wording.
The accord ends a wrangle between Washington and Paris that had lasted several days.
The news comes as Israeli planes are continuing their heavy bombardment of Lebanon, with the Israeli Defence Force warning of more to come.
Israel says it plans to bomb “Hezbollah rocket launching sites” in Sidon and warned the inhabitants of south Lebanon’s biggest city to leave.
The Israeli army announced its intentions as a senior US official was meeting Lebanese leaders on a possible deal to end Israel’s 25-day-old war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch said after meeting Prime Minister Fouad Siniora that the solution lay in a “lasting political framework backed by an international force”.
An Israeli army spokesman said leaflets dropped on Sidon, whose normal population of 100,000 has been swollen by refugees from war zones further south, had warned all residents to leave.
“We dropped leaflets warning residents to leave because the army will attack Hizbollah rocket launching sites in Sidon,” he said. Other army officials confirmed the warning had been given.
A local official in Sidon, who asked not to be named, said Hezbollah’s Shiite guerrillas were not present in the mainly Sunni Muslim city. One resident said he had seen a leaflet that warned people to leave, but that did not mention Sidon by name.
Lebanon says a million people, a quarter of the population, have been displaced by the war launched after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.
Thirty-five rockets fired from Lebanon hit northern Israel by early afternoon on Saturday, with no immediate reports of casualties, police say.
The majority of the rockets hit the suburbs around the port of Haifa, the country’s third-largest city, and the town of Maalot.
Hezbollah has been pummelling Israel with rocket fire for the past three days, daily lobbing more than 200 missiles into the Jewish state in strikes that have killed a dozen civilians.
During the past two days, the majority of the rockets have rained down during the second half of the day.
Since the beginning of the Lebanon offensive on July 12, Hezbollah has fired more than 2,500 rockets into Israel, killing 30 civilians.
As the air raids continue, the United Nations relief agency, the UNHCR, has accused Israel of strangling Lebanon.
Astrid Van Genderen Stort, of the UNHCR, says attacks on the main coastal road leading north have cut the lifeline bringing food into the country.
“It is a major, major setback for the UN especially,” she said.
“I mean we have all our relief items come in from Syria over that route right down to Beirut so we are very dependent on a regular pipeline, a regular import of relief items to fill our warehouses that we can the next distribute to the people all around Lebanon.”