ADDRESSING SECURITY COUNCIL, ARAB LEAGUE MINISTERS CALL FOR COMPREHENSIVE CEASEFIRE, ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON

8 August 2006
SC/8804

ADDRESSING SECURITY COUNCIL, ARAB LEAGUE MINISTERS CALL FOR COMPREHENSIVE CEASEFIRE, ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON

8 August 2006
Security Council
SC/8804
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5508th Meeting (PM)

Addressing Security Council, arab league ministers call for comprehensive ceasefire,

Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon

 

Israel’s Representative Says Mention of Hizbollah

‘Curiously Missing’ in Discussion; Calls for Blueprint to Deal with Terror

Opening a fresh round of diplomatic talks to end the crisis in Lebanon, Arab League officials today pressed the Security Council to rework a draft resolution proposed by the United States and France to include a demand for a comprehensive ceasefire, and for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from Lebanon so that a proposed 15,000 Lebanese troops and a beefed up United Nations peacekeeping force could be deployed in the war-ravaged south.

Following the League of Arab States’ emergency meeting in Beirut yesterday, League ministers flew overnight to New York to meet with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and urge the Council to consider incorporating into the resolution a seven-point proposal, which calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and demands Israel’s retreat behind the Blue Line in south Lebanon, including its withdrawal from the disputed Shebaa Farms, which would be placed under United Nations control, and calls for a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hizbollah.

France and the United States presented a negotiated draft Saturday calling for a “full cessation of hostilities” and saying Hizbollah must stop all attacks while Israel must halt all “offensive military operations”.  It was designed to pave the way for a second resolution that would quickly authorize an international force for the Israel-Lebanon border, and the creation of a buffer zone between the Blue Line and the Litani River (about 12 miles from Israel’s border) free of Hizbollah militants and Israeli troops.  But when the text met with resistance from Arab leaders, who said it disregarded critical Lebanese concerns in favour of Israel, the Council delayed a vote so that it could weigh the new proposal.

“What is happening will sow the seeds of hatred and extremism in the area and provide a pretext for those who feel that the international community is taking sides and lacks fairness as regards this dispute”, said Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassam Bin Jabr Al-Thani, First Deputy Prime Minster and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, warning the Council that adopting non-enforceable resolutions would only complicate the situation on the ground, and could result in grave ramifications for Lebanon, the Arab States and all the countries of the region.

Presenting the Arab-backed amendments to the Council’s draft on Lebanon’s behalf, he also called for support for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) through an increase in the force strength and material, and an expansion of its mandate; and support for the decision of the Lebanese Government to extend its authority over all its territories through the deployment of the Lebanese Army there.  He said that with peace came requirements and obligations that everyone must fulfil, in particular, that all States must live within safe and recognized borders.  Also, the Palestinian people should be allowed to realize their legitimate rights to an independent State, living alongside Israel in peace.

Tarik Mitri, Lebanon’s Minister of Culture and Special Envoy of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, said he had come to the Council -- and the international community –- to ask for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.  Indeed, 27 days and some 920 lives ago, Lebanon had asked for a ceasefire.  More than 3,000 injured civilians ago, Lebanon had asked for a ceasefire.  And while he acknowledged the Council’s determination to end the violence, “after all this time, after all the lives that had been lost”, the draft by France and the United States still fell short of Lebanon’s critical needs.

He noted that the draft called for Israel to end its “offensive” actions, while everyone in the room knew that Israel had traditionally termed its actions in Lebanon and the region “defensive”.  So, in effect, the resolution left Lebanon vulnerable to the whims of Israel.  How could it be considered valid, when it called for an end to hostilities but carried the risk of further violence and destruction?  In order for any Council action to be viable, Israel must immediately begin withdrawing from Lebanese territory, he said.  United Nations peacekeepers should be the only force deployed in the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River.  He also affirmed the Lebanese Government’s readiness to deploy 15,000 troops in that area and throughout southern Lebanon, as Israel withdrew.

In response, Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said one word was curiously missing in the discussion, Hizbollah.  So, the issue in the current crisis was not territory, but terror.  The Arab League envoys had spoken as if there were no Hizbollah, “as if it all came out of nowhere”.  There should be some mention of the true cause of the conflict, which was that Hizbollah had taken the people of Lebanon, including the city of Tyre, among others, hostage.  After six years unchecked, Hizbollah had amassed some 17,000 missiles, which were now aimed it Israeli towns, holy cities and civilians.   Israel had a right to act in self-defence and would make every effort to bring its abducted soldiers home.

So, the Council faced a critical test today, and that was not whether it could pass a resolution but whether it could develop and successfully implement a blueprint to deal with Hizbollah and the other forces of terror in the Mideast region, so they would no longer pose a threat to Israel, Lebanon or the wider international community, he said.  Israel wanted a ceasefire, but one that sowed the seeds for future peace, not future terror.  He believed that his Arab colleagues did not want a text that would create a vacuum that Hizbollah would fill -- a return to the status quo ante.  Calling for robust action to begin the dismantling and disarming of armed groups and full implementation of Council resolution 1559, he warned that the terrorists were watching the Council closely today, and half measures, statements and mere declarations would only embolden them, and everyone would be right back at the table in the coming weeks or months facing a tragedy of similar or even greater proportions.

The meeting began at 3:39 p.m. and ended at 4:30 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met today in an extraordinary session to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

Statements

SHEIKH HAMAD BIN JASSAM BIN JABR AL-THANI, First Deputy Prime Minster and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said the people of Lebanon were bearing the brunt of the current crisis that was engulfing their country and adversely affecting its political stability.  Indeed, the draft resolution tabled before the Council required careful consideration and must take into account the Arab position as expressed in the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the League of Arab States, held yesterday in Beirut, Lebanon.  At that meeting, the seven-point plan of the Lebanese Prime Minister had been unequivocally adopted.

The League’s presence at the Security Council was an explicit expression of that collective Arab position, he said, drawing attention to the repercussions of adopting non-enforceable resolutions that would only serve to complicate the situation on the ground, and which could result in grave ramifications for Lebanon, the Arab States and all the countries of the region.

The only way to settle the conflict in the Middle East was through a just, permanent and comprehensive peace, he continued.  With peace came requirements and obligations that everyone must fulfil, in particular, that all States must live within safe and recognized borders.  Also, the Palestinian people should be allowed to realize their legitimate rights to an independent State, living alongside Israel in peace.

He went on to say that it was a fallacy to believe that pursuing a policy of violence against Lebanon would provide security for Israel, or restore the desired stability.  “What is happening will sow the seeds of hatred and extremism in the area and provide a pretext for those who feel that the international community is taking sides and lacks fairness as regards this dispute”, he said.

Mr. Al-Thani called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire; a withdrawal of the Israeli forces behind the Blue Line; support for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) through an increase in the force strength and material, and an expansion of its mandate; and support for the decision of the Lebanese Government to extend its authority over all its territories through the deployment of the Lebanese Army there.

TARIK MITRI, Minister of Culture of Lebanon and Special Envoy of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, said his delegation had come to the Council -- and the international community -- asking for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.  Indeed, 27 days and some 920 lives ago, Lebanon had asked for a ceasefire.  More than 3,000 injured civilians ago, Lebanon had asked for a ceasefire.  The Lebanese had asked for a ceasefire when more than 1 million civilians who had now been uprooted by war had been living in their homes.  In the shadow of Qana, Lebanon had also called for a ceasefire.  Today, it was asking again for a ceasefire, in the face of more attacks, raids, and “mistakes” as Israel termed violence against civilians.

He acknowledged the Council’s determination to end the violence and appreciated the international community’s concern for the future of Lebanon and support for its democratic Government’s attempt to promote peace and stability.  But the France-United States draft fell short of Lebanon’s critical needs and might not achieve the ends the international community was seeking.  The text did not call for an immediate ceasefire -- after all this time, after all the lives that had been lost.

And while Lebanon affirmed many of the draft’s elements, it believed many others needed further clarification.  He noted that it called for Israel to end its “offensive” actions, while everyone in the room knew that Israel had traditionally termed its actions in Lebanon and the region “defensive”.  So, in effect, the resolution left Lebanon vulnerable to the whims of Israel.  How could it be considered valid, when it call for an end to hostilities but carried the risk of further violence and destruction?

In order for any Council action to be viable, Israel must immediately begin its withdrawal from Lebanese territory, he said.  That should not be postponed.  United Nations peacekeepers should be the only force deployed in the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River.  He affirmed the Lebanese Government’s willingness -– and readiness -- to deploy 15,000 troops in that area and throughout southern Lebanon, as Israel withdrew.  He added that the Government also affirmed its intention to help an expanded UNIFIL monitor and patrol the region.

He also called for a more “forward-looking” view on the issue of Shebaa farms.   Lebanon had seen the international community was willing to move forward on that important issue, but the France and United States draft did not reflect that readiness.   Israel’s track record in responding to Council resolutions should also be considered.  It had frequently ignored the United Nations-demarcated Blue Line, both on the ground and in air space.   Lebanon would reaffirm its willingness to maintain and ensure its sovereignty.  The elements he had presented to the Council would allow Lebanon to live in peace and rebuild its devastated country.  “We need your sustained support and solidarity”, he said.

DAN GILLERMAN ( Israel) said that, for the past month, the people of Israel and the people of Lebanon had been caught up in a horrific conflict that had caused devastating losses on both sides.  But through all this, it was clear that speeches and resolutions would not bring an end to the suffering.  That would only come when those who sparked the conflict -- those who sought to destabilize the region -- were faced squarely and their deadly and pervasive influence overcome.  The Council faced a critical test today, and that was not whether it could pass a resolution but whether it could develop and successfully implement a blueprint to deal with Hizbollah and the other forces of terror in the Mideast region, so they would no longer pose a threat to Israel, Lebanon or the wider international community.

Neither the people of Israel nor Lebanon had any wish to be in the conflict, he said.  Six years ago, Israel had withdrawn from every inch of Lebanon.  So, the issue in the current crisis was not territory by terror.  The issue was Hizbollah.  It had dug deep into every inch of Lebanese soil and spread its poisonous roots into every town and village.  After six years unchecked, Hizbollah had amassed some 17,000 missiles, which were now aimed it Israel.  Over the past weeks, Israel’s towns and holy cities had been targeted -- men, women and children, Jewish, Muslim and Christian alike.

He said no country would or should allow an organization to erect a vast terrorist infrastructure on its borders.  No United Nations Member State would or should let its citizens be targeted by bombs.  No citizenry would or should be satisfied unless its Government did whatever was necessary to protect their lives.  Israel had a right to act in self-defence and would make every effort to bring its abducted soldiers home.  But the enemy Israel faced made its efforts in this regard doubly complicated.  It must defend against an enemy that not only targeted civilians but hid among them.  Indeed, Hizbollah saw the people of Lebanon as not just targets but shields, and hid rockets, bombs and munitions in their homes, mosques, and even United Nations facilities.  Israel had made strenuous efforts to adhere to the principles of international law and to avoid disproportionate damage to the civilians the terrorists were using as shields.  It had also acted to ensure that humanitarian aid was delivered and that evacuations were effectively and efficiently carried out.

What more profound difference could there be between Israel and the enemy it faced than the realization that one side equipped residential buildings with bomb shelters and the other filled homes with bombs? he asked.  The difference was also evident in those who mourned the death of Lebanese and Israeli civilians and those who targeted them and saw every Israeli civilian death as a cause for celebration.  He believed and hoped that through all the pain, the people of Lebanon could see the callous disregard of Hizbollah, which claimed to be fighting their cause but, in truth, placed bombs in bed with their sleeping children.  Hizbollah had exhibited the lowest form of cowardice, hiding behind weak civilians.  Indeed, often they used timed explosives in order to set a bomb to detonate while they ran away to safety, leaving unknowing and defenceless civilians behind.

He said that Hizbollah had learned its cowardly tactics well from their sponsors -- Iran and Syria -- which used others to fight proxy wars on their behalf.  The past four violent weeks had taken a painful toll on both sides, but had also led to the destruction of rocket launchers and concealed weapons caches, and the area of south Lebanon had been substantially cleared of terrorist infrastructure.  Now the Lebanese and the international community could begin to repair six years of damage done by Hizbollah and take robust action to begin the dismantling and disarming of all armed groups.  It was also time to begin the process of bringing about an effective end to the will of the merchants of terror in Tehran and Damascus and enhancing the will of the people of Lebanon to confront the terrorists who had wreaked such havoc on them.

Those were among some of the fundamental and practical measures needed to lead everyone out of the crisis, he said.  Israel was ready to cease hostilities if those effective measures came into place and if the terrorist threat came to an end.  Israel wanted a ceasefire, but one that sowed the seeds for future peace, not future terror.  A resolution was not an end, but a means to achieve an end, to ensure that the people of Lebanon and Israel lived in peace and prosperity.  He believed that his Arab colleges did not want a text that would create a vacuum that Hizbollah would fill -- a return to the status quo ante.  The terrorists were watching the Council today, and half measures, statements and mere declarations would only embolden them.  If that happened, everyone here would find themselves right back at the table in the coming weeks or months facing a tragedy of similar or even greater proportions.

But if the Council took bold action, he said the terrorists and their masters in the region and around the world would know that they had come face to face with the united will of the international community.  Fighting against terrorism was a fight for peace, and he hoped to see the end of the conflict in which moderates prevailed and extremists met with the condemnation and isolation they deserved.  “There is no dispute between us, the horrendous fighting has not been fuelled by either of our States”, he said to his Lebanese counterpart.  It had been fuelled by regimes that wanted to derail attempts to turn the culture of hate into a culture of hope.

He called on his Arab League counterparts to work with Israel to create a culture where Lebanese and Israeli children could go to school and not cower in bomb shelters.  He believed that such a culture would prevail.  Children were not born to be murderers of the innocent, and the innate goodness of people would prove stronger than the hatreds that had fuelled the conflict.  “You have a choice”, he said, “whether to cast lot with those who work for peace and prosperity or with those who threaten to undermine those principles -– to side with those who build or with those who destroy.  For the sake of our people and children, choose builders over destroyers.”  He said the flags of the two States were a reminder of shared history of building together, and added, “Let us find the courage to rise from the ashes of war and ruins of conflict and build together again.”

In his response, Mr. AL-THANI, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar, said he was glad to hear the representative of Israel expressing a willingness to consider a ceasefire, and for speaking of the Lebanese people in such positive terms.  However, history had seen “the occupation of Lebanon more than once”, and “its destruction more than once”.  Such tragedies must be dealt with through legitimate means -- for example, through Security Council resolutions, and what had been agreed in Madrid and Oslo.

He said that terrorists were able to continue acts that threatened international peace and security precisely because their Governments were unable to obtain peace despite the many international peace conferences that had been convened.  That was true, as well, with regarding the failure to implement Security Council resolutions on Palestine.

He then asked Members to consider who, truly, was delaying the implementation of those resolutions, saying that the ending of any aggression -- the achievement of ceasefire -- must be done justly through a Security Council resolution.

If a resolution were to be adopted without fully considering “the reality of Lebanon”, the country would face civil war.  He urged Member States to consider what could be implemented on the ground, as well as to concentrate on who would implement which actions, and to take note of who failed to implement them.

He said the phenomenon of jihad came about because Governments seeking peace had not obtained it.  There was indeed a sincere wish in the region for all parties to coexist in peace, but Israel’s refusal to respect the legitimate rights of others in the region still formed an obstacle.

Also responding to the Israeli Ambassador’s statement, TAREK MITRI, Minister of Culture of Lebanon and Special Envoy of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, said that it had pained him to hear references in the Bible to the city of Tyre, which was now devastated after having been pounded by Israeli air strikes uninterrupted for the past 10 days now.  The Israelis were destroying the city.  The “campaign against terror”, as the Israelis would like to call their all-out war against Lebanon, had been felt and lived as “a horror” by the people living there.  Indeed, attacks against the so-called “infrastructure of terror” were really attacks against the infrastructure of Lebanon.  “We are all here to find a way out”, he said, stressing that his Government’s proposal was a viable option that allowed a true and effective cessation of hostilities that would lead to a durable ceasefire.  It opened the way forward to a more durable solution.  He hoped the opportunity offered by his Government’s proposal was not lost.

Responding to Mr. Mitri and Mr Al-Thani, Mr. GILLERMAN ( Israel) said the Israeli Government and people shared their pain over the destruction of Tyre.  But, nevertheless, there had been one word curiously missing in their statements:  Hizbollah.  They had spoken as if Tyre was merely a peaceful town rather than one which had been used by Hizbollah as a base to launch scores of missiles into Israel.  They had spoken as if there were no Hizbollah, “as if it all came out of nowhere”.  There should be some mention of the true cause of the conflict, which was that Hizbollah had taken the people of Lebanon, including the city of Tyre hostage.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.