Israel and Lebanon are reacting coolly to a draft United Nations resolution that calls for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon. The U.N. Security Council is discussing the resolution, which is to be followed up with a second resolution establishing a multi-national force to help maintain the peace.
The U.N. Security Council resolution currently under discussion calls for Hezbollah to stop attacks against Israel, and for Israel to stop its offensive operations against the militant group. Hezbollah has its stronghold in southern Lebanon, from where it has launched rockets at Israel.
President Bush's national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, told CNN's Late Edition he hopes action on the resolution comes within days, not weeks. "Our hope is to get it voted on sometime Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning, because we want to get that resolution adopted as a first step toward bringing down the violence, moving very quickly to a second resolution, which would involve a multi-national force and call for the Lebanese army to move in to southern Lebanon, backed by that multi-national force," he said.
He added that the United States supports what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has described as efforts to implement a more enduring peace in the region. "It is a two-step process. We've used this two-step process so that we can get this first resolution, get the violence down, buy a little time in order to put the multi-national force together, and then move into a second resolution, and into what we hope will be a sustainable ceasefire in this conflict," he said.
On the same program, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said his country has no immediate reaction to the draft U.N. resolution, because it has not yet been finalized. "But I want to remind you that Israel has implemented all of the United Nations' resolutions concerning Lebanon. Not that this helped very much. But we kept our respect to the United Nations. We will wait another couple of days for the first resolution, because the first resolution must be followed by a second resolution, and then the second resolution has to be implemented. So, there is no sense to react ahead of time," he said.
Lebanese Economy Minister Sami Haddad used stronger language, calling the draft resolution disappointing. He re-emphasized calls for an urgent and immediate ceasefire, saying it is the Lebanese people who have so far borne the largest brunt of the fighting. "So we want a definite end to this war and we want the Lebanese army, with the help of an international force mandated by the U.N., to protect us from the wrath of the strongest war machine in the region, that is raining terror and catastrophe on Lebanon," he said.
The fighting between Israel and Hezbollah broke out more than three weeks ago, after Hezbollah militants raided Israeli territory and abducted two Israeli soldiers. Israeli military officials say they have arrested one of the Hezbollah guerrillas who took part in last month's abduction.