View Full Version : Possible Resolution Between Lebanon/Israel Crisis, John Bolton A Pessimist

08-11-2006, 08:46 AM
Breakthrough in talks over UN cease-fire resolution Military chiefs strongly opposed to truce terms


By Shlomo Shamir, Aluf Benn and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

Diplomatic negotiations for a UN-brokered cease-fire resolution aimed at ending the fighting in Lebanon made a breakthrough Thursday, raising hopes that a truce deal would pave the way for the stationing of international troops in Lebanon as part of a package that would end the month-long confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.

Both the Israeli and American envoys predicted the resolution could be passed by Friday, or Saturday at the latest. Israel's ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman said Friday the draft resolution should be voted on the same day or Saturday at the latest.

The UN Security Council will convene Friday to discuss the new proposal, which has been agreed to by the United States as well as France.

Gillerman told Israel Radio "it is estimated that a resolution could be voted on by Friday afternoon, and if not then on Saturday. But still, there is an attempt to reach a resolution on Friday."

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said late Thursday, however, there was still no agreement on a resolution calling for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah but that he hoped for one on Friday. "I have not at all given up on the prospect that we might yet vote tomorrow," Bolton told reporters after a day of talks. "We have not yet reached agreement but will continue to work on it and will continue to work on it this evening and meet again early tomorrow morning."

When describing the Lebanese position, Gillerman was somewhat less enthused, insinuating that Beirut's diplomacy was puerile: "Lebanon stands by the same position it has maintained thus far, a position that makes many demands that might even be called crybaby ?"

This approach, the envoy said " helps them sometimes, and they are faithfully represented by the three Arab League foreign ministers that arrived [in New York] following the Beirut summit."

Gillerman was dismissive of the possibility that Lebanon's demands will become the core of the UN resolution, saying "it's possible that Siniora's seven-point plan could be mentioned somewhere [in the final resolution], but certainly won't serve as the basis for the draft [resolution] or as a condition for the draft."

Gillerman said that Russia's proposal to hold a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire would only allow " Hezbollah to regroup and recover and we think this is a bad idea." However, the envoy said that Russia still remained a positive player in the diplomatic efforts and predicted that Moscow would not veto the current resolution that is being prepared.

A senior Lebanese political source said on Thursday that the parites are currently trying to put the finishing touches to the final wording of the resolution. The revised draft calls for a "progressive" Israeli withdrawal. "The Americans have moved their position. A deal with the French is very close in the next hours, but most likely on Friday," he told Reuters.

"The breakthrough is based on the inclusion in the call for a cessation of hostilities for a progressive Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory to go simultaneously with the deployment of the Lebanese army backed by reinforced UN peacekeepers."

The source said the peacekeepers would mainly be reinforced by French soldiers. As part of the deal, Hezbollah would pull out from south of the Litani river.

After 30 days, the source said, there would be a more comprehensive resolution that declares a ceasefire and sets out solutions for the release of captive IDF soldiers, the release of Lebanese prisoners and the disarming of Hezbollah.

Otniel Schneller, an adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said the UN was at work on a new approach. "A new proposal is being drafted, which has positive significance that may bring the war to an end," Schneller said.

IDF General Staff fiercely opposed to cease-fire terms
One dispute that delayed the agreement was over Shaba Farms. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a Lebanese-French demand that Israel withdraw from this area and transfer it to an international force until the UN, which had previously ruled Shaba part of Syria, decides how to handle Lebanon's claim. The new draft merely states that the dispute over Lebanon's borders, including around Shaba Farms, must be resolved, and instructs UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to propose a plan for doing to.

Government sources expressed satisfaction with the new draft, saying that it includes two key Israeli demands: an international force with teeth, and the disarmament of south Lebanon below the Litani River. "It's true that the problem of Hezbollah has not been solved," admitted one, "but we are also not in a position to solve it militarily."

However, the Defense Ministry and the IDF General Staff are fiercely opposed to the emerging cease-fire, and senior defense officials accused Olmert of blocking the proposed advance to the Litani, thereby denying Israel a significant military achievement.

The officials charged that the emerging resolution is very problematic for Israel, because it makes no provision for the immediate return of the kidnapped soldiers (it urges their return, but this is not one of the resolution's operative clauses), includes no stringent supervisory mechanism to prevent a renewed flow of arms to Hezbollah, and does not guarantee the organization's disarmament. "[Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah will continue to mock us, and in the end there will be another war," said one.

"We understand that the leadership wants to do everything possible to save soldiers' lives, but too much is in the balance here," added another. "We must continue."

The defense officials argued that the cabinet should have allowed the expanded operation approved on Wednesday to start immediately, thereby creating military pressure for a cease-fire more favorable to Israel. By delaying the operation, they said, this opportunity has apparently been missed.

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