Tearful Siniora Pleads for Arab Help

A tearful Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Monday, August 7, pleaded for Arab help to enforce an immediate ceasefire in Israel's four-week onslaught against his country and "correct" a much-criticized Franco-American draft.

Tearful Siniora Pleads for Arab Help

A tearful Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Monday, August 7, pleaded for Arab help to enforce an immediate ceasefire in Israel's four-week onslaught against his country and "correct" a much-criticized Franco-American draft resolution.

"It is imperative that the Israeli enemy stops its aggressive actions and withdraw immediately ..., hand it (territory) over to international forces, exchange prisoners, and reveal land mine maps," Siniora told a crisis meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Beirut, reported Reuters. He stressed that the French-American draft fell short of calling for an immediate Israeli pullout from southern Lebanon.

"Any international resolution concerning this crisis should answer two conditions, (which are) to respect the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, and to establish a ceasefire with an Israeli withdrawal," Siniora stressed. The text calls for a "full cessation" of fighting but not an immediate ceasefire nor the immediate withdrawal of some 10,000 Israeli forces from southern Lebanon. Lebanon has said it does not believe the draft provides a satisfactory solution to the conflict.

Beirut has formally sought changes to the draft, to bring it in line with his government's seven-point plan to halt the fighting. The UN Security Council was to hold new consultations on the draft in light of Lebanon's objections. China and Russia insisted the text should take more account of Lebanon's concerns.

Tearful Siniora

His eyes brimming with tears as he spoke about the suffering of civilians, Siniora implied all Arab governments would have to face the consequences of Lebanon's fate. "Today we need a unified Arab stand to correct the Security Council decision for a lasting settlement," said Siniora, choking back tears. "Our Arab identity is not conditional and is not by force. It is by choice. Your position with us, your standing with us is a right and a duty. Arab security is interlinked," he warned.

Siniora later told a press conference the meeting decided to immediately send a high-powered three-member delegation to the UN to press for the proposed Lebanese amendments to the Franco-American draft. The delegation comprises Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and the foreign ministers of Qatar, the only Arab member on the Security Council, and the United Arab Emirates, which holds the current rotating presidency of the Arab League.

On Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said the US-French draft "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." After talks with Lebanese leaders in Beirut on Sunday, August 6, Moussa called UN chief Kofi Annan to ask for an amendment of the draft which would take Lebanese concerns into consideration.

An Arab diplomatic source said Moussa asked that the draft call for an immediate Israeli troop pullout from southern Lebanon following the end of hostilities, and for the occupied Shebaa Farms area to be placed under UN jurisdiction.

Targeting Aid

Nineteen people were killed in separate Israeli strikes on villages in the south and the eastern Bekaa valley on Monday. Lebanese Health Minister Mohammad Khalifeh said the war had killed 925 people, mostly civilians, with 75 missing, presumed dead. About one-third of the dead were children under the age of 13, he told Reuters. Israeli aircraft also hit the last coastal crossing on the Litani river between Sidon and Tyre, cutting the main artery for aid supplies to civilians in the south, security sources said.

"We must be able to have movement throughout the country to deliver supplies. At this point we can't do that," said the UN humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon, David Shearer. "The deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure is a violation of international law," he said. International aid groups said Israel was providing no security guarantees, effectively paralyzing its delivery of aid south of the Litani.

About 22,000 people remain in the region, less than one fifth of the pre-war population, according to UN figures. "Our last remaining supply route into Tyre into the south has been cut," said Christopher Stokes, operations director for the relief group Medecins Sans Frontieres. Israeli bombing has already pounded Lebanon's roads, bridges, ports, airports and other installations, though power, water and telephone systems are still more or less functioning.
















Source: Islamonline.net

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