Talks continue over UN resolution on Lebanon war

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

There has been more fighting between Israel and Hezbollah as attempts to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Lebanon continue.

The Arab League is proposing an amendment calling for Israel's immediate and complete withdrawal from Lebanon, a condition that is not in the current draft.

There are also objections to the resolution's call for Hezbollah to end all attacks whilst only requiring Israel to end "offensive" actions. Critics assert this wording gives Israel room to continue defensive operations. Lebanese parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, who is also a member of Hezbollah, said the draft is one sided. "If Israel has not won the war but still gets all this, what would have happened had they won?" Syrian Foreign Minister Wali Muallem called the American-French proposal "a recipe for the continuation of the war".

Israeli analysts say their government is pleased with the draft. "We got what we wanted" said the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

The draft resolution is not expected to come to the UN Security Council for a vote until Wednesday or Thursday.

The Lebanese government has pledged to dismantle Hezbollah's "state within a state" and to send 15,000 troops to be part of a peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon if Israel withdraws. The UN resolution proposed by Washington and Paris would allow Israel to remain in Lebanon for the time being. The Beirut government's pledge was unanimously approved by Lebanon's coalition cabinet which, significantly, includes two Hezbollah representatives

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the Lebanese proposal an "interesting step", but said Israel would only pull out of Lebanon once it decides Hezbollah is no longer a threat.

Meanwhile, Israeli air and artillery strikes continue in their effort to secure key strategic points from which Hezbollah has launched rockets into Israel, and to choke off supply lines over which Hezbollah arms have been travelling. Over 90 missiles hit northern Israel by midday.

The intensity of the fighting has forced the UN to delay for a day an aid convoy into south Lebanon.

Nearly 1,000 Lebanese and 100 Israelis have been killed during the month long conflict. Casualties on the Lebanese side have been mostly civilian, while 35 Israeli civilians were killed.

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