Cease-fire deadline set for Tuesday

US is putting all its diplomatic weight behind the international call.

condoleezza rice 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
condoleezza rice 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
The US administration has set Tuesday as a deadline for passing the draft UN Security Council resolution calling for a cessation of violence between Israel and Lebanon. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will attend the final meeting of the Security Council before the vote on the resolution, to make clear that the US is putting all its diplomatic weight behind the international call for a cease-fire. While discussion went on over the weekend at UN headquarters in New York regarding the details of the proposed American-French resolution, senior administration officials used the Sunday morning talk shows for a public push for the cease-fire agreement that was worked out on Saturday. Rice, who is spending the weekend at President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, stressed that the US will not open negotiations with Lebanon and Israel over the language of the resolution and that the initial negative response of the Lebanese government will not deter the US. "Let's vote on the resolution," Rice said in an interview with ABC, "and then there is going to be an obligation by Lebanon and Israel to obey." National Security Adviser Stephan Hadley said in a separate interview, that "if one party does not [accept the resolution] we will get a good gauge for which side is not interested in peace." The administration's current strategy is to use the first UN resolution as a vehicle for reducing the level of violence and for gaining a period of relative quiet in which efforts will be focused on building the international force. US officials said work on the second UN resolution will begin within days and that it could be voted on in weeks. Yet the US does not expect this week's UN resolution to bring a complete end to the violence in Lebanon and along Israel's northern region, nor does the US demand an Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon before an international force is deployed. "We're trying to deal with a problem that has been festering and brewing in Lebanon now for years and years and years and so it's not going to be solved by one resolution in the Security Council," Rice told reporters at a press conference she held in Crawford. Diplomatic sources in Washington estimated over the weekend that the passing of the first UN resolution on Tuesday will not come across major obstacles, but that moving forward to the second phase will be more complicated. Among the problems the sources pointed out: making sure violence is reduced during the interim period, forming an effective international force and getting Israel to pull out its forces even before a complete cease-fire is reached.