Israel, Hezbollah hesitate on deal

Hezbollah says it will abide by a UN-backed ceasefire and Israel says it plans to halt offensive operations on Monday, but both sides issued caveats to their acceptance of a UN resolution to end the fighting.

    Nasrallah says Hezbollah has the right to resist Israel

    Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, said on Saturday that his fighters would observe the UN resolution ending fighting once the timing of the truce was agreed and adhered to by Israel.
     
    "We will not be an obstacle to any [government] decision that it finds appropriate, but our ministers will express reservations about articles [in the UN resolution] that we consider unjust and unfair," he said in a speech broadcast on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.

    But he called continued resistance to the Israeli offensive "our natural right" and predicted more intense fighting to come.

     

    "The war has not yet ended," he said. "That can be seen on the ground where Israeli offensives are still ongoing.

    "Hezbollah has the right to resist Israeli soldiers still in Lebanon, but will co-operate with Lebanese soldiers and UN troops due to be deployed to southern Lebanon as part of the Security Council resolution," he said.

    "We must not make a mistake, not in the resistance, the government or the people, and believe that the war has ended. The war has not ended. There have been continued strikes and continued casualties," he added.

    Nasrallah also warned Beirut: "During the next period, the Lebanese government should bear its responsibilities with regard to political security, reconstruction, and humanitarian sides."

    The Lebanese cabinet accepted the resolution during a four-hour long meeting on Saturday.

    "It was a unanimous decision, with some reservations," Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, said.

    Cleaning the area

    Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, said on Saturday that Israel's offensive against Hezbollah was expected to end on Monday.

    "We said [we would] allow the army the time it needed and I think that will be until some time on Monday," she told Channel Two television.

    Another senior Israeli official said offensive operations would stop

    at 7am on Monday (0400 GMT), but troops would "be cleaning the area" of Hezbollah fighters and weapons after that.

    "Cleaning the area falls under defensive operations," the Israeli official said. Such operations are permitted under the resolution.

    "We are the tool that is supposed to drive Hezbollah out of the south so the UN force can move in," the official added.

    Despite the UN resolution's demand for a "full cessation of hostilities", Israeli air raids killed 20 people on Saturday.

    Israeli forces also made their deepest push into Lebanon in this conflict, some reaching the Litani River, about 20km north of the border between Israel and Lebanon.

    The Litani is the line behind which Hezbollah is expected to withdraw under the UN resolution.

    Hezbollah fired 65 rockets at northern Israel on Saturday, wounding several people, and clashed with Israeli troops, killing seven and wounding 70.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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