Da The Guardian del 07/08/2006
Originale su http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1838737,00.html

Lebanon rejects UN truce proposal which it claims favours Israel

di Oliver Burkeman, Clancy Chassay

New York, Beirut - Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, piled pressure on Hizbullah to comply with the proposed UN call for a truce yesterday, reiterating Washington's insistence that a cessation of hostilities would be the first step towards a longer-term settlement. "We're trying to deal with a problem that has been festering and brewing in Lebanon now for years and years and years," she said.

But Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, rejected the 6,500-word text thrashed out by Washington and Paris. Mr Berri, who has been negotiating on behalf of Hizbullah, said the draft resolution legitimised Israel's occupation, adding that it would "open the door to never-ending war". Philippe Douste-Blazy, France's foreign minister, said obtaining Lebanese and Arab support for the plan was his government's priority.

The draft's demand that Israel halt "offensive operations" leaves open the option of pursuing defensive activities - a definition that could be interpreted not just as permitting a response to Hizbullah attacks, but also pre-emptive action. "If we see there are launchers who are going to fire Katyusha [rockets] at Israel, we have the right to respond," said the country's justice minister, Haim Ramon, though he broadly welcomed the UN text.

The resolution was the result of concessions on both sides. If the text is passed, Paris will have won on the basic structure: a two-part process, consisting of a halt to violence, followed soon after by a second resolution to approve an international peacekeeping force. Any such force would be led by France. But Washington, which has supported Israel, gained crucial concessions - above all the terminology on "offensive operations" - and the absence of any mention of troop withdrawal.

Lebanese diplomats tried to overturn that yesterday, circulating a proposed amendment calling on Israel to hand over its positions in Lebanon to the Lebanese armed forces. The amendment would also have required Israel to withdraw from the disputed Sheba'a Farms area and hand it to the UN, a key Lebanese demand that goes unmentioned in the US-French text.

Nouhad Mahmoud, Lebanon's UN ambassador, said his proposals only represented "what everybody asked for", and that there was "no excuse" not to accept them. But Israel has repeatedly said it will not withdraw in the absence of a multinational force to maintain a buffer zone.

Syria and Iran, Hizbullah's main backers in the region, opposed Paris and Washington's terms for a cessation of hostilities.

In a telephone call with Syria's president, Bashar Assad, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the US, "which has been supporting the Zionist regime until today" had "no right to enter the crisis as a mediator". Syria's foreign minister, Walid Moallem, visiting Lebanon, said it was "a recipe for the continuation of the war".

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