Creating people's geographies
Washington Post :: Sunday, August 6, 2006; 8:36 AM
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon rejects a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to end 26 days of fighting because it would allow Israeli forces to remain on Lebanese soil, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Sunday.
Slamming the French-U.S. draft as biased, Berri said it ignored a seven-point plan presented by Lebanon that calls for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the return of all displaced civilians among other things.
“Lebanon, and all of Lebanon, rejects any resolution that is outside these seven points,” said Berri, who has been negotiating on behalf of Hizbollah guerrillas.
“Their resolution will either drop Lebanon into internal strife or will be impossible to implement,” he told a news conference.
The draft resolution, which the Security Council is expected to vote on either Monday or Tuesday, calls for a “full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.”
A senior Israeli government official said the Jewish state views the draft favorably, because it allows Israel to respond to Hizbollah attacks once a truce takes effect and did not order Israel to withdraw its 10,000 soldiers from southern Lebanon.
Israel wants its troops to remain until an international force mandated by the United Nations can take over.
Berri said that there could be no peace while Israeli soldiers remained on Lebanese soil.
“What was agreed is not in Lebanon’s interests but against them. This will open the door to never-ending war,” he said.
“There will be operations against this army that is not on its own soil, that is occupying here. The result is the Israelis will bomb again so we will reach neither a next stage nor the deployment of the (Lebanese) army nor UNIFIL nor international forces.”
Berri also said the wording of the resolution was loaded against Lebanon.
He complained that an international force that would be established by a second U.N. resolution, following an initial resolution establishing a truce, would come under Chapter Seven of the U.N. charter, which authorizes the use of force, but would not necessarily be answerable to the world body.
France is seen as the potential leader of such a force.
Berri said the resolution would put Lebanon back in the same position it was in before May 2000, when Israeli troops occupied a broad swathe of southern Lebanon for 22 years.
Israel withdrew from the area amid constant attack by Hizbollah guerrillas.
Hizbollah leaders have sworn to fight as long as Israeli soldiers remain on Lebanese soil. Israeli troops are trying to drive Hizbollah back from the border area, from where the group has fired barrages of rockets into the Jewish state.
© 2006 Reuters