U.N. Resolution Points to Peace in Lebanon
SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution that would end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah after protracted negotiations.
NPR's Jackie Northam joins us from our studios in New York. Jackie, thanks for being with us.
JACKIE NORTHAM reporting:
SIMON: And the resolution requires Hezbollah to immediately cease all air attacks, Israel to immediately cease its offensive military operations. What does this practically mean?
NORTHAM: Yes, that's right, Scott. Israel - this resolution calls on Israel, as you say, to cease all its offensive military operations, but not its defensive operations. And this was something Lebanon objected to, but nonetheless signed the agreement.
Also under this resolution Lebanon is to deploy about 15,000 troops to the south of the country. And as that deployment begins, Israel will start withdrawing its forces from southern Lebanon in parallel.
And so the other major provision in this resolution is really to enlarge and strengthen a contingent of U.N. troops known as UNIFIL. And they're already in southern Lebanon, a small contingent, about 2,000 right now. They'll be beefed up.
SIMON: Any indication where those troops will be coming from and how quickly?
NORTHAM: Not quite yet, no. France has - nobody's actually said, but there's a lot of talk in the back rooms. France is expected to give quite a number of troops towards that. There's talk that Turkey might as well. The U.S. will most likely not contribute troops, but they will contribute towards logistics, so communications, that type of thing.
SIMON: How satisfying - we'll add that we're going to be joined by correspondents in the region in just a few minutes to talk about the situation on the ground and reaction. But as you can gauge it there, Jackie, how satisfying is this resolution to all of the parties concerned? Israel and Lebanon, who've signed off on it, and Hezbollah, and I have not heard from them.
NORTHAM: Well, you wouldn't really hear from Hezbollah, you would hear from Lebanon, who has obviously been in touch with Hezbollah. I think it's a real patchwork agreement. People are, you know, all sides gave up a little bit and all sides got a little bit of what they want.
You know, the body language, you know, at the Security Council yesterday, people were not, as you said, wholly satisfied, I don't think, and it really looked uncomfortable. And everybody really admits that this is very fragile at this point and there's a lot of key things that still have to be worked out.
And one of the main ones, of course, is the cessation, when that - of violence. When is that going to take hold? We don't know. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is meeting with Lebanon - or in consultation with Lebanon and Israel, just to find out when the fighting will stop. And until then it continues. In fact, Lebanon - or Israel is continuing with a major ground offensive right now.
SIMON: Secretary Rice said something, didn't she?
NORTHAM: She did, yes. Actually, she - you know, during her speech to the Security Council she warned that, look, anything, nothing's going to happen overnight. This is a really - this is an important step, but it's only a first step, and I think we have a cut of her speaking yesterday.
Ms. CONDOLEEZZA RICE (U.S. Secretary of State): No one can expect an immediate end to all acts of violence. The conditions of a lasting peace must be nurtured over time with the goodwill of the Lebanese and Israeli governments.
SIMON: NPR's Jackie Northam. Thanks very much.
NORTHAM: Thank you, Scott.
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