Arabs demand changes to UN draft

The US and France are working on changes to a draft UN resolution to end the conflict in Lebanon and Israel, following sharp criticism from Arab governments.

    The toll rises as the UN continues its deliberations

    Lebanon rejected the draft resolution because it does not call for withdrawal of Israeli forces from its territory.

    Walid Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, said the US-French "draft resolution is a recipe for the continuation of war and fighting because there will be resistance against the occupation of any inch of occupied Lebanese lands".

    Yahya Mahmassani, the Arab League's UN observer, said the current draft "has a discriminatory tone, and we don't accept it".

    The league, has given its "complete backing" to a seven point peace plan drawn up by Fuad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister.

    However, the US ambassador to the UN said he thought there could be changes based on Beirut's decision on Monday to deploy troops in the south.

    "We're still talking about possible changes we can make based on developments in Lebanon today," said John Bolton.

    Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French foreign minister, said: "We are saying to the Americans: 'Let's not submit this resolution until we  have taken on several amendments by the Arab League, in any case, the Lebanese government'."

    Amendments

    Beirut's chief objection is the presence of some 10,000 Israeli troops in south Lebanon which Israel says is to stop Hezbollah rocket fire.

    The UN draft does not call for their withdrawal and Israel has said it would not leave until an international force arrives.

    Both Lebanon and Qatar, the only Arab member of the Security Council, have submitted amendments.

    Qatar's proposals go further than Lebanon's by eliminating all calls for an international force as Hezbollah has demanded.

    Amr Mussa, the chairman of the Arab League, and Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani, the Qatari foreign minister, as well as Abdallah bin Zayed, the United Arab Emirates' foreign minister, were to travel from Beirut to New York for a public debate at the Security Council on Tuesday.
      
    Because of Tuesday's special meeting and the possible changes, a vote was not expected on a resolution before Wednesday - exactly four weeks after the start of fighting which has now left more than 1,000 dead in Lebanon and Israel.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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