U.N. Resolution Inadequate, Says Lebanon's PM The United States and France point to a positive response to a draft U.N. resolution calling for a halt to fighting and asking U.N. peacekeepers to monitor the Israeli-Lebanese border. But Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Siniora calls the text "inadequate." His government plans to press the Security Council to amend some of the wording.
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U.N. Resolution Inadequate, Says Lebanon's PM

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U.N. Resolution Inadequate, Says Lebanon's PM

U.N. Resolution Inadequate, Says Lebanon's PM

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Today's attack by Hezbollah came as diplomatic efforts picked up this weekend to end the three and half week-long conflict. The United States and France say they have received a positive response to a draft U.N. resolution calling for a halt to the fighting and asking U.N. peacekeepers to monitor the border between Lebanon and Israel.

But at least one key player is unhappy with the proposal. Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has described the text as inadequate. His government intends to press the Security Council to amend some of the wording.

NPR's Philip Reeves is in Beirut and he joins us now.

Philip, what exactly are the objections to the U.N. resolution?

PHILIP REEVES reporting:

Well, it has a number of concerns. And in fact, several senior Lebanese officials have been outlining these today, including the speaker of parliament, Nabi Beri, who is a prominent Shiite politician, held a press conference in which he rejected the draft.

Now, one of the things that worries the Lebanese most is that whilst the draft expresses support for Lebanon's territorial integrity and its sovereignty, it does not categorically call for the withdrawal of Israel's armed forces from south Lebanon. Now, Lebanon is arguing that this is a recipe for more confrontation.

It's also raising the issue of Shaaba Farms. That's the small disputed border area now under Israeli occupation. Lebanon says this is Lebanese territory and wants it to be placed under U.N. supervision until the issue is resolved. They've been pressing for that and they're disappointed that the draft doesn't specify that.

And there's concerns, too, about the wording of the draft's call for a full and immediate end to hostilities. It says there should be an immediate end to all Hezbollah attacks and all Israeli offensive operations. And the devil is in the detail here. The Israelis tend, say Lebanese officials, to argue that their attacks are defensive. And they're worried - the officials are worried - that this will allow Israel to carry on with its assaults on Lebanon.

HANSEN: Elaborate a little bit. What about Hezbollah? How has it received the draft?

REEVES: Hezbollah's got several members in the Lebanese government. One of them has stated that Hezbollah will only agree to a cease-fire when the last Israeli soldier has left Lebanese territory. And that clearly is not a part of the draft U.N. resolution. It's pretty certain Hezbollah shares the Lebanese government's objections here. It won't also like the fact that the draft talks about the unconditional release of the two Israeli soldiers who, remember, were abducted last month, but it only refers to encouraging efforts aimed at settling the issue of Lebanese prisoners in Israel which Hezbollah wants freed. So they are unlikely to be happy with that as well, and that means that the outlook, I'm afraid, is not bright.

HANSEN: Does that mean that the resolution will fail?

REEVES: It's expected, I understand, to pass through the U.N. Security Council. But, you know, the landscape of the Middle East is littered with failed U.N. resolutions. The fate of this one will depend on whether the combatants are willing to play ball. And at the moment, there's not much evidence to suggest that they will, at least in the short term.

HANSEN: Has the draft made any difference to the violence?

REEVES: The rockets and artillery shells have continued to fly back and forth today, with pretty devastating effects. I mean, as you said, this day has brought the single deadliest Hezbollah rocket attack, which killed 10 people at least in northern Israel, just north of Qiryat Shimona. Lebanese security forces are saying that five civilians were killed by an Israeli airstrike in south Lebanon, and that several more bridges in the north have been destroyed, and two people have reportedly been killed by an Israeli attack in the Bekaa Valley on a base belonging to a militant Palestinian group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

You know, the list goes on in all its dreadful detail, and I'm afraid it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

HANSEN: NPR's Philip Reeves in Beirut. Philip, thank you very much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

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