WASHINGTON - The French-American resolution for a cessation of hostile activities in Lebanon
overcame a significant hurdle Monday. In unofficial discussions that were held between the ambassadors of the five Security Council members, each of whom has veto power, Russia agreed to support the proposal. The practical implication of this is that, together with the Chinese and the British, there will be no veto. The Security Council will convene Monday or Tuesday to vote.
If there won't be any last minute delays, the vote will take place Tuesday, in order to allow the 10 rotating members of the Security Council to pass on the French-American version to their capitals for authorization. This is mainly a ceremonial procedure after the five permanent members have expressed their support for the motion.
The French-American draft resolution is considered amenable to Israel since it does not call for an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon at this stage, but only after the deployment of a multinational force alongside the Lebanese army. It calls Israel to
avoid offensive operations, but doesn't forbid Israel from defending herself (from Israel's perspective, bombing a truck carrying rockets crossing from Syria to Lebanon is self-defense). The proposal also demands the release of the kidnapped Israelis outside of the conditions of a prisoner swap.
Lebanon opposes draft
The negative aspects of the draft for Israel are the reference to the need to address the issue of Lebanese prisoners and a UN call to discuss Shebaa Farms. Israeli ambassador to the US, Danny Ayalon, said in an appearance on a weekly interview program on Fox News that we must wait for the final version, but that the most important element for Israel is that there will be an immediate block of weapons transfers from Syria
to Lebanon. He said that it should not be that IDF soldiers leave Lebanon before the deployment of an effective force that can disarm Hizbullah.
Sunday, Lebanon announced that they are opposed to the draft resolution, demanding that an article be added to the resolution calling Israel to immediately withdraw from all Lebanese territory, and to make an explicit mention of Shebaa Farms in the document. Qatar, representative of the Arab bloc in the 15 Security Council members, even demanded such an addendum to the resolution. UN sources reported to Ynet that Russia did not join in this demand.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice clarified in an interview with ABC Network that the resolution must pass by Tuesday. In a conversation with reporters on Bush's farm in Texas, Rice said that she sees Tuesday's decision not as bringing about a definitive ceasefire, but that it will stop the rocket shootings at Israel as well as the massive military campaign of the Israeli Air Force in population concentrations in Lebanon.
The United States expressed her outrage at the Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, who was a behind-the-scenes partner in consolidating the draft resolution for a cessation of violence. Siniora agreed to the draft, but now has revoked his support under Syrian-Iranian pressure.
The announcement of Siniora's refusal to support the draft provoked fury in Washington. Rice responded to the press diplomatically saying that Lebanon can't get everything she wants, just as Israel can't get everything she wants in this resolution.