Middle East leaders support resolution

Politicians in the Middle East are confident a UN Security Council resolution can bring an end to the Lebanon conflict, even though Israel is expanding its military offensive.

    Resolution 1701 calls for a full halt to hostilities

    The resolution called for a full halt to hostilities based on "the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations".

    Cairo urged Israel to "observe an immediate and complete ceasefire in order to allow the political agreement - achieved after significant efforts - to be applied".

    Ahmed Abul Gheit, the Egyptian foreign minister, said: "The first condition of this political accord is the Israeli army's total withdrawal from all Lebanese areas it entered since the start of the crisis."

    Other countries in the region refrained from putting pressure on Israel and issued more muted responses, with the Jordanian prime minister, Maaruf Bakhit, expressing hope it would serve as a "first step" to ending the conflict.

    Up to Lebanon

    "We hope that the Lebanese will accept the resolution," Bakhit told reporters following talks with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. "It is a first step, we hope, to stop the bloodshed which is the priority now."

    Qatar said 1701 did not evoke the
    horror of Israeli destruction

    Abbas also said it was up to Lebanon to endorse the resolution.

    "First and foremost Lebanon must accept the resolution and I believe that Lebanon will accept it."

    Qatar, the only Arab state on the Security Council, said it had reservations because the text did not "clearly evoke the horror of the destruction caused by the Israeli aggression against innocent civilians".

    However, it "accepted the resolution in order to bring an end to the bloodshed and avoid further destruction in Lebanon and the region", said

    Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani,

    the Qatari foreign minister.

    Iran, a staunch backer of Hezbollah, rejected the resolution, saying it was biased because its call for an end to "offensive" Israeli operations was ambiguous.

    "UN resolution 1701 is completely one-sided and it serves the Zionist regime's interests," Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, said.

    "Some amendments need to be incorporated into the resolution," he said, adding that the views of the Lebanese people and government "need to be taken into consideration".

    Delay lamented

    "UN resolution 1701 is completely one-sided and it serves the Zionist regime's interests"

    Manouchehr Mottaki,
    Iranian foreign minister

    The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) welcomed the resolution for its inclusion of Lebanon's view but "regretted" the month it took to reach agreement on the resolution.

    The delay allowed "Israel [time] to practise savage and destructive acts against Lebanon's civilians and infrastructure", it said.

    Marwan Hamadeh, the Lebanese communications minister, said his country was "inclined to accept" the UN resolution although it did not fully satisfy the Beirut government.

    "It satisfies, more or less, the Lebanese government's plan to extend state sovereignty over all its territory," he said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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