Russia: UN resolution won't work without regard for Lebanon

By Shlomo Shamir

Haaretz

Av 15, 2006

An Arab League delegation accused the Security Council on Tuesday of standing by idly while weeks of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah sew "the seeds of hatred and extremism" in the Middle East.

"It is most saddening that the council stands idly by, crippled, unable to stop the bloodbath which has become the bitter daily lot of the defenseless Lebanese people," Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani, the head of a three-man Arab League delegation, told the 15-nation council.

"What is happening will sew the seeds of hatred and extremism in the area and provide a pretext for those who feel that the international community is taking sides and lacks fairness as to this dispute," he told the 15- nation council.

Russia seeks interim resolution
Russia urged the UN Security Council on Tuesday to adopt an interim resolution calling for "humanitarian cessation of fire" in Lebanon, if it fails quickly to overcome differences over a wider document.

Beirut has objected to a draft resolution calling for a cessation to hostilities in the nearly month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas because it did not contain a call for an immediate withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from southern Lebanon.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said in remarks posted on his ministry's website that Moscow wanted Lebanese opinion to be taken into account in the resolution co-authored by the United States and France.

"Otherwise, the resolution could turn out not to work, as has happened in the past," he said. "Moreover, an unbalanced decision by the Council is fraught with risks of exploding Lebanon's fragile internal political situation."

"If differences over the current project are maintained, a short Security Council resolution on a humanitarian cessation of fire should be urgently adopted as aninterim step," Denisov added. He did not expand further on the idea.

The United States has resisted the Lebanese demand for an Israeli withdrawal to be covered in the draft.

Qatar: Draft resolution will result in 'grave ramifications'
Qatar's foreign minister warned Tuesday that the draft resolution would only complicate the crisis and result in "grave ramifications" for Lebanon and the entire region.

Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani told the Security Council that the U.S.-French draft would be impossible to enforce in its current form. He said the resolution must call for the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from southern Lebanon and the strengthening of UN peacekeepers already deployed in the region.

"We draw the attention of the august council to the repercussions of adopting a non-enforceable resolution that would further complicate the situation on the ground and have grave ramification for Lebanon, Arab countries and all the countries of the region," Al Thani said.

At the same time, Al Thani implicitly criticized the council for having taken little substantive action thus far in response to the war, which began when Hezbollah captured two IDF soldiers on July 12 and has killed hundreds of people.

"It is most saddening that this council stands idly by, crippled, unable to stop the bloodbath which has become the bitter daily lot of the defenseless Lebanese people," Al Thani said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that he is confident there will be consensus on a United Nations resolution to end the fighting in the Middle East by Wednesday.

The UN Security Council was to convene Tuesday at 3 P.M. local time (10 P.M. Israel time) to discuss the crisis and the UN resolution, which was drafted by the U.S. and France.

Qatar is thought to have requested the Tuesday session following Monday's decision by Arab foreign ministers to send an Arab League delegation to the UN in an effort to secure Lebanese requested changes to the draft.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is expected to address the council. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, will also exercise Israel's right to respond.

Speaking on the BBC, Blair urged the international community "to get it down and get it done without delay."

He said diplomats should "take account" of representations from the Lebanese government and other Arab states, but this should be done quickly.

"I think we can achieve what the Lebanese government wants to see as well as what the Israeli government wants to see, which is the government of Lebanon back in full charge of its own territory without leaving a vacuum in which the Hezbollah militia can move in," Blair said.

Blair, who has delayed the start of his summer holidays because of the crisis, has been speaking on the phone to international leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac.

The Qatari request was perceived on Monday by diplomats in New York as a defiant move against the United States and France, which have been trying since Saturday to push through their draft proposal. Tuesday's session now means a discussion and vote on the U.S.-French draft proposal that was supposed to have taken place on Monday will be held over the weekend at best.

"The diplomatic process has run aground," a veteran political commentator at the UN said Monday.

Bush: We must not create Hezbollah vacuum in Lebanon
Meanwhile, sources at the UN said Monday that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was supposed to arrive in New York on Tuesday, had postponed her arrival in the city. UN sources also said Bush's address Monday was a clear-cut expression of opposition to substantial changes in the draft proposal.

Bush told reporters at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, that he was adamantly opposed to Lebanon's demand to amend the proposal to include a demand for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon.

"Whatever happens in the UN, we must not create a vacuum into which Hezbollah and its sponsors are able to move more weapons," Bush said, adding, "Sometimes, the world likes to take the easy route to solve a problem. Our view is that it is time to address the root causes of problems, and to create a vacuum ... is unacceptable."

In what was seen as a special message to the Arabs, Bush stressed that the goal of the resolution was to provide a comprehensive solution that would rehabilitate Lebanon's sovereignty and facilitate a sustainable peace.

Despite the U.S.'s vehement opposition to changes in the draft proposal, UN sources believe the Bush administration will agree to various non-substantial changes. "The United States and the members of the Security Council will not be able to disregard Fouad Siniora's opposition to the current version of the resolution," a senior Western diplomat told Haaretz last night.

Unconfirmed reports said the French are prepared to make changes to the draft proposal. "It is not by chance that the French president has not been heard over the past two days," the diplomat said.