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Lebanon: Arab League Warns UN Of Potential Civil War

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A delegation of Arab League foreign ministers has warned the UN Security Council that civil war will break out in Lebanon unless there is an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli troops.

The three-member delegation appeared before the Security Council on August 8 to express objections to a French-U.S. draft resolution aimed at ending more than four weeks of fighting between Israel and Hizballah militants.

Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, said there will be serious consequences for Lebanon -- including civil war -- unless the draft is amended to include a call for an Israeli withdrawal.

The Lebanese government also is demanding that an Israeli withdrawal be included in the draft before it is voted upon.

In the face of the Arab objections, France and the United States reportedly are revising their draft resolution. Correspondents say the developments could push back a vote until August 9, at the earliest.

Lebanese acting Foreign Minister Tarek Mitri added his voice to Arab criticisms of the French-U.S. draft.

"Regrettably, the draft resolution not only falls short of meeting many of our legitimate requests, but it also may not bring about the results that the international community hopes that it would achieve," he said.

Mitri explained that Lebanon is concerned that the draft only calls upon Israel to "stop all offensive actions," which he said is not enough.

"We all know that Israel has never conceded that its actions in Lebanon have been anything but defensive," Mitri said. "All the wars launched by Israel in our country have been claimed to be self defensive. In this respect, the resolution leaves Lebanon vulnerable to the whims of Israel."

Mitri also told the Security Council that it has stood by idly while Israeli attacks in Lebanon have killed hundreds and injured thousands of civilians. "Twenty-seven days ago, we asked for an immediate cease-fire. More than 900 lives ago, we asked for an immediate cease-fire. More than 3,000 injured civilians ago, we asked for an immediate cease-fire."

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, responded to accusations by Mitri that Israel is deliberately targeting civilians. Gillerman says Hizballah may be using civilians as human shields, but that Israel has a right to defend itself:

"I believe that the people of Lebanon, through all the pain and anguish of these past few weeks, have seen through the callous disregard of Hizballah, which claims to fight their cause but places a weapon next to a sleeping child," he said.

Gillerman also said Israel does not have a quarrel with Lebanon. He says the conflict is over terrorists, not territory.


Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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