gillerman UN 298 88.
(photo credit: AP)
The UN Security Council is slated to begin debate on a resolution calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah before the end of this week.
The Israeli delegation's position is that any resolution must take into account the issue of timing. Israel does not want a cease-fire until all the elements are in place to secure southern Lebanon and to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah. Most of the rest of the world, whose position is represented on the Security Council by France and Russia, wants an immediate cease-fire, to take effect the moment a resolution passes.
Daniel Carmon, the deputy representative of Israel to the UN, said that although there were "promising aspects" to both the French-drafted resolution that was presented on Saturday and the cease-fire plan floated by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the timing issue was key.
"We would like to be certain before ceasing fire, before ceasing our fight against Hizbullah, that a whole package, which includes many elements, is formulated," Carmon said.
Israel's main concern is that there be a firm commitment to enforcing Security Council Resolution 1559. Paragraphs 3 and 4 call for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias" and "the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory." This would ensure that the Lebanese army take control of the border with Israel.
The Israeli position that the only acceptable cease-fire would be one that prevents Hizbullah from regrouping, is similar to the American stance. President George W. Bush yesterday reiterated his call for a "sustainable" cessation of hostilities.
Carmon suggested that the plan now being presented by Rice was formulated with at least some coordination with Israel. "You could guess from the fact that the secretary of state was in Israel that some deliberations were made with the prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, and some thoughts were raised with them," Carmon said.
The cancellation of the meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss the logistics of a multinational force with potential contributors seemed to indicate that the UN was losing control over the creation of such a force. But John Bolton, the American ambassador to the UN, warned reporters not to read too much into the meeting's postponement. "It has zero political significance," he said on Monday. "It has more to do with airline schedules."
The meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan seems determined to gather commitments prior to the passing of a resolution. That would bolster the UN's credibility and would answer one of the criticisms raised in the 2000 Brahimi Report issued by a commission charged with reforming the UN. It recommended that no Security Council resolution mandating a peacekeeping force be passed, "until such time as the secretary-general has firm commitments of troops and other critical mission support elements, including peace-building elements, from member states."
To that end, the meeting on a multinational force will look at "logistics and technicalities," said Ahmad Fawzi, a UN spokesman. But, as he admitted on Tuesday, there are many obstacles to assembling a military force that does not yet have a clear mission. "Member states will be reluctant to say what they can contribute without a mandate," Fawzi said.
A few countries have already begun setting conditions for joining a force, among them France, Poland, Australia and Turkey.
France plans on taking a central role in the force; its soldiers form part of the existing UNIFIL mission. But French President Jacques Chirac has been one of the strongest proponents of an immediate cease-fire.