Senior United Nations officials said on Thursday that Israel
will complete the withdrawal of its troops from southern Lebanon by Monday morning, Lebanon's leading daily An-Nahar reported on Friday.
The officials said the United Nations turned down an Israeli demand that the peacekeeping forces in Lebanon alter their open-fire regulations.
IDF soldier walking past UN armored personnel carrier (Photo: AP)
The said Israel's demand is aimed at delaying the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from southern Lebanon.
"Stalling on this issue will lead to reaction that everyone fears," UN officials warned their Israeli counterparts.
The commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), French General Alain Pelligrini, told Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri that Israel will complete its withdrawal by the end of September, which falls on Sunday.
A UNIFIL spokesperson reiterated a similar claim, which contradicts an Israeli decision to postpone the withdrawal unless the peacekeeping force alters its open-fire regulations and until Reslution 1701 is fully implemented.
The issue of Israel's withdrawal was discussed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora during a meeting in Berlin on Thursday.
Siniora called on Israel on Thursday to speed up its withdrawal from Lebanese territories and to stop what he said were repeated forays into his country's sea and air space.
"Resolution 1701 has to be respected by all parties," Siniora said at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, referring to the U.N. resolution which ended a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbollah fighters in Lebanon.
"I think Israel has to really expedite the process of withdrawal from all the newly occupied territories and it has to stop its incursions and violations of our airspace, waters and lands," Siniora added.
Merkel urged all sides to respect the resolution, while taking care not to criticise Israel. Support for Israel has been a fundamental policy of all German governments since the fall of the Nazis.