Nouhad Mahmoud, a Lebanese foreign ministry official, said on Sunday that the government “would have liked to see our concerns more reflected in the text” of the draft resolution.
“Unfortunately, it lacked, for instance, a call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces which are now in Lebanon. That is a recipe for more confrontation.”
He said the government was also unhappy that the resolution does not call for the Shebaa Farms area to be put under UN control, as Lebanon has asked, while its future status is figured out.
The strip of Israeli-occupied land was deemed by the United Nations to be part of Syria unless Lebanon, which claims the territory, demarcated new borders with Syria, which has not happened.
The UN draft resolution was released on Saturday after Washington and Paris reached an agreement on the document’s details.
Mahmoud said Lebanon had proposed some amendments to make the draft more acceptable to Beirut.
“It must address the concerns of the Lebanese people. Otherwise it won’t fly,” he said.
“We [will] abide by it on condition that no Israeli soldier remains inside Lebanese land. If they stay, we will not abide by it”
Mohammed Fneish, Hezbollah minister in Lebanese cabinet
He added that Beirut remained committed to the seven-point plan adopted last month by its cabinet, which includes Hezbollah ministers.
The plan calls for an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, the return of Lebanese people driven from their homes by the fighting and the deployment of UN and Lebanese forces in the south, along with the disarmament of Hezbollah.
The Lebanese parliament speaker – and a key figure in negotations with Hezbollah – said that the draft was not in Lebanon’s interests and would be rejected by Lebanese people.
Nabih Berri said “Lebanon, all of Lebanon, rejects any talks and or any draft resolution that does not include the seven-point government framework.”
Speaking after a cabinet meeting held to discuss the document, Ghazi Aridi, the Lebanese information minister, said: “Even this draft is not final … we will not discuss the intentions of this side or that.
“None of us will give up anything to do with national sovereignty, rights, dignity,” he said, affirming the government was committed “to Lebanon’s territory, Lebanon’s liberation, the withdrawal of the occupation from Lebanese land”.
Mohammed Fneish, one of two Hezbollah cabinet ministers, said: “We [will] abide by it on condition that no Israeli soldier remains inside Lebanese land. If they stay, we will not abide by it.”
Time running out
John Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN, said the draft was the start, not the end.
“This is not a resolution that provides the comprehensive solution. I’m sure there are aspects of it that are displeasing to almost everyone but the point is this is a way to get started and that’s what we hope to do.”
“We have the coming days for lots of military moves. But we have to realise the timetable is getting shorter”
One Israeli cabinet minister said the draft resolution put pressure on his country to complete its military operation quickly.
“We have the coming days for lots of military moves. But we have to realise the timetable is getting shorter,” said Isaac Herzog, the tourism minister and a member of the security cabinet.
“It is a fact that we have to accept and act in accordance with,” he said on Israeli Channel 1 television.
But Haim Ramon, the justice minister, speaking on army radio, did not say if Israel accepted the resolution as it stood.
“This is just a draft,” Ramon said. “So we must continue fighting .. We still have goals to achieve militarily.”
Ramon said Israeli troops would stay in southern Lebanon fighting Hezbollah until an international security force arrives.
The draft resolution’s central demand is for “a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations”.
The document charts a detailed path for the two sides to follow to achieve a lasting peace, envisioning a second resolution in a week or two that would authorise an international military force for southern Lebanon.
Among those steps would be the creation of a large buffer zone in southern Lebanon free of both Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters, monitored by the Lebanese army and international peacekeepers.
The draft sets no timetable for
But it sets no timetable for the withdrawal of thousands of Israeli soldiers that have moved into southern Lebanon in recent days.
Nassir al-Nasser, Qatar’s ambassador to the UN, the Security Council’s only Arab member, said: “If we call for cessation of hostilities, then what after that? The Israeli forces are on the territory of Lebanon. They should go back.”
The draft also called for Hezbollah to be disarmed and for Lebanon’s borders to be solidified, especially in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, occupied by Israel since 1967.
Another element was an arms embargo that would block any entity in Lebanon except the national government from obtaining weapons from abroad.
That was aimed at blocking the sale or supply of arms to Hezbollah from Iran and Syria, which are believed to be the group’s main backers.
The resolution would put significant pressure on Lebanon’s government, which ceded control of the south to Hezbollah.
A vote on the resolution is expected within the next few days.
Tough in practice
Some political analysts said the UN initiative would be difficult to put into practice.
“There’s going to be a huge gap between the content of this resolution and the military and psychological reality on the ground [which] will make it hard to implement,” said Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Telhami said one problem was that Hezbollah has not been involved with drafting the resolution.
“It isn’t clear that they (Hezbollah) have any input in this, and it’s hard to see how you’re going to implement something like this [without it].”