Saturday, August 12, 2006

UN approves Lebanon ceasefire resolution

UN approves Lebanon ceasefire resolution
By Jonathan Birchall at the United Nations
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
Published: August 11 2006 20:33 | Last updated: August 12 2006 01:49

The United Nations unanimously adopted on Friday night a resolution calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah. A 15,000-strong international force will be sent to southern Lebanon in a bid to end the fighting there and bring about the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, told the security council the resolution would “help to open a path to lasting peace for Lebanon and Israel”.

“Since the conflict began, we have sought an immediate end to the fighting. But we have also insisted that a durable ceasefire requires a decisive change from the status quo that produced this war,” she said. “With this resolution, a new stronger Lebanon can emerge, with the world’s help.”

The new plan gives a central role to the Lebanese army in securing southern Lebanon as Israeli forces pull back, reflecting objections by Lebanon and its Arab allies to earlier UN peace proposals that called for an international force to move in alone.

The Lebanese army, with support from the UN, will be required to neutralise any potential threat from Hizbollah by ensuring that there are no forces or weapons except those under its command in a zone 13 miles from Israel’s northern border.

The resolution also gives the UN force – to be led by France – the right to use force if necessary to ensure that the areas under its control are not used for hostile activities, and to take action to protect civilians “from imminent attack” – which would give it the authority to move against Hizbollah missile launches.

The international troops will be under the command of the small existing UN presence in Lebanon, UNIFIL.

“Though it bears the same name, this is not the same force,” Ms Rice said, adding that the Lebanese army and the UN would work together to “ensure that no armed groups like Hizbollah can threaten stability”.

Kofi Annan, UN secretary general, told the UN security council it was “absolutely vital that the fighting now stop”.

He added that the inability to act sooner had shaken the world’s confidence in the security council.


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