The League of Arab States accused the Security Council today of doing nothing while the Lebanese people have become engulfed in a “bloodbath” since the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah erupted almost a month ago.
The Arab League also told the Council that any resolution on the issue must include an immediate ceasefire and a provision insisting on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon.
But, calling for Hizbollah to be dismantled and disarmed and Resolution 1559 to be enforced, Israel’s Ambassador Dan Gillerman warned the 15-member body against a “path of half-measures, concessions and mere declarations.”
Mr. Gillerman also said that any international action must demand the Lebanese Government “show the will and the courage to retake control of its destiny.”
The Council meeting at UN Headquarters in New York today heard addresses from representatives of the League of Arab States, Israel and Lebanon.
Speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani said innocent Lebanese had borne the brunt of the current conflict.
“It is most saddening that this Council stands idly by, crippled and unable to stop the bloodbath, which has become the bitter daily lot of the unarmed Lebanese people,” he said, adding later in his speech that “what is happening will sow the seeds of hatred and extremism in the area and provide a pretext for those who feel that the international community is taking sides.”
Sheikh al-Thani recommended an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire; the withdrawal of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to behind the Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon; an increase in the size, strength and mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL); and support for the Lebanese Government so that it can deploy its army, and thereby extend its authority, across all of its territory.
Mr. Gillerman told the Council that “a strong, robust and effective international force” is needed in Lebanon to “ensure the dismantling and disarming of all terrorist groups, and the implementation of Resolution 1559, in all its parts.”
The Israeli ambassador said any Council action must also include “enforceable and effective measures which will prevent the continued supply and rearmament of weapons and ammunition from the merchants of terror in Damascus and Tehran.”
Declaring that “the issue in this crisis is not territory but terror,” he added that Israel is ready and willing to cease hostilities and withdraw its forces from southern Lebanon once “the terrorist threat on its citizens” comes to an end.
Lebanon’s Acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri told the Council that a draft resolution being circulated “not only falls short of meeting many of our legitimate requests, but also may not bring about the results that the international community hopes it would achieve.”
Mr. Mitri said the text calls for a “cessation of hostilities” rather than a comprehensive and immediate ceasefire, a form of words which “leaves Lebanon vulnerable to the whims of Israel.”
He added that, as part of a seven-point plan unanimously adopted by the Lebanese Council of Ministers, the country’s Government reiterates its readiness to deploy 15,000 members of its armed forces in the south if Israel withdraws behind the Blue Line, and to call for an enhanced UNIFIL presence as well.
After the Council meeting, a three-man delegation from the League of Arab States, including Sheikh al-Thani, met with Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss the crisis in the region. The delegation briefed Mr. Annan on the Arab League’s own ministerial meeting on the issue in Beirut yesterday and its support for Lebanon’s seven-point plan.
Mr. Annan’s office said they also discussed the draft Council resolution and the Secretary-General encouraged the delegation to meet with the resolution’s co-sponsors.