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Security Council Considers Amendments to Truce Plan in Lebanon


At the United Nations, the Security Council is discussing amendments to a French-American sponsored resolution to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Diplomats met throughout the weekend to consider proposals put forth by Lebanon and Qatar, the only Arab nation currently serving on the Security Council.

France and the United States presented a negotiated draft resolution Saturday calling for a full cessation of hostilities leading to a permanent cease-fire and political solution to the crisis in Lebanon.

But Lebanon is urging the council to revise the resolution to include a demand that Israel immediately withdraw its forces from Lebanon and turn over its position to U.N. peacekeepers. According to the Lebanese proposal, the peacekeepers would help the Lebanese army deploy throughout southern Lebanon, which is now in control of Hezbollah forces, to the Blue Line, the U.N.-drawn boundary with Israel.

France's U.N. ambassador, Jean Marc de la Sabliere, says council members are trying to take into consideration all points of views, including those of the Arab League, which is sending a delegation to meet with the council.

"I said when we secured the text in the council that this text could be improved so I am going to work to day to improve the text," he said. "We have to take into account the concerns of all."

The Arab League envoy to the United Nations, Yahya Mahmassani, say the withdrawal of Israeli troops behind the Blue Line and a cease-fire are the top priorities. Next, he says, is putting the disputed Shebaa Farms area under U.N. jurisdiction pending its delineation. Lebanon claims the area, which Israel seized area during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. But the United Nations says it belongs to Syria and that Syria and Israel should determine the area's fate. Hezbollah says Israel's occupation of the Shebaa Farms area is the reason for its fight with Israel.

"The third point: there should be the transfer of the two Israeli soldiers and the Lebanese prisoners, including those who were abducted recently," noted Mahmassani. "There should be an equity. It should be done simultaneously. They way it is now in the present draft, it has a discriminatory tone and we do not accept it."

Once the Security Council passes the resolution, a second resolution is expected to deal with the issue of sending an international force to implement a cease-fire and a long-term solution to the situation in Lebanon.