Lebanon has warned that a UN draft resolution will not end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants and could exacerbate divisions in the country to the point of "possible civil strife."
Tarek Mitri, sent to the UN as a special envoy by Lebanon's Council of Ministers, criticized the resolution's call for Israel to halt only offensive military operations and its failure to demand an immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops once hostilities end. He also criticized its failure to give Lebanon's year-old democratic government enough political clout to stand strongly against Hezbollah.
Lebanon has "a triple problem" with the resolution and wants major changes to ensure that it leads to a halt to nearly four weeks of combat that has killed more than 600 on both sides, forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and left Lebanon in tatters, he said, the AP reports.
The Lebanese prime minister rejected a U.N. cease-fire plan backed by President Bush, demanding on Monday that Israel immediately pull out from southern Lebanon even before a peacekeeping force arrives to act as a buffer between Hezbollah and the Jewish state.
His Cabinet, which includes two Hezbollah ministers, voted unanimously to send 15,000 troops to stand between Israel and Hezbollah should a cease-fire take hold and Israeli forces withdraw south of the border. The move was an attempt to show that Lebanon has the will and ability to assert control over its south, which is run by Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite Muslim militia backed by Syria and Iran.
In Texas, Bush said any cease-fire must prevent Hezbollah from strengthening its grip in southern Lebanon, asserting "it‘s time to address root causes of problems." He urged the United Nations to work quickly to approve a U.S.-French draft resolution to stop the hostilities, heraldnewsdaily.com says.
Israeli airstrikes have continued to pound south Beirut overnight, killing as many as eight people and wounding several others. Earlier, Israeli air attacks killed at least seven people near the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. In the meantime, Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has corrected an earlier accusation that Israeli jets killed 40 people in the village of Hula. He later said that one person had died. The Israeli army said it lost three soldiers in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil, while five Hezbollah militants were killed, there. The Israeli military added that it had shot down a Hezbollah drone aircraft, dw-world.de reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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