UN delays peacekeeping action

Artykuły


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"



Staff and agencies
Monday July 31, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

The UN today said it had "indefinitely postponed" moves to send an international stabilisation force to enforce a peace between Israel and Hizbullah guerillas in south Lebanon.
A UN official said a meeting scheduled for this afternoon to discuss the issue had been delayed "until there is more political clarity" on the path ahead.
The delay will be a significant set back to Tony Blair and George Bush who, during their joint press conference in Washington on Friday, said the international stabilisation force should be quickly established in Lebanon and that a plan to halt hostilities was needed on an "urgent basis".
Today, the US president repeated that demand while on a trip to Florida. "A multinational force must be dispatched quickly to speed up the humanitarian aid to the Lebanese people," Mr Bush said shortly before the postponement of the UN meeting emerged.
Israeli air force jets bombed southern Lebanon this morning, despite a 48-hour suspension of air strikes negotiated by the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, yesterday after an attack that left more than 60 dead.
The strikes, near the village of Taibe, were carried out in support of ground forces operating in the area and did not target anything specific, the Israeli army said.
Israeli troops this afternoon moved into the Aita al-Shaab area of Lebanon in a new incursion, the army said.
The latest strikes called into question the 48-hour suspension that was the most significant outcome of Ms Rice's visit to the Middle East at the weekend.
The cessation was negotiated after Lebanese leaders cancelled their meetings with Ms Rice following yesterday's attack on the southern Lebanese town of Qana, which rights group Human Rights Watch today labelled a "war crime".
The 48-hour window was intended to allow civilians trapped in southern Lebanon to escape to the north of the country, away from the threat of bombardment.
Some 200 Lebanese, mostly elderly and weak, limped to safety after weeks stuck in Bint Jbail, which has seen some of the bloodiest ground fighting of the 20-day-old conflict.
Rescuers took advantage of the relative peace and began recovering bodies from the rubble of targeted areas. Lebanese Red Cross sources said 12 bodies were recovered in the village of Sreefa, nine in Zibqeen and four in Qleileh, all east of the port city of Tyre. Three other bodies were recovered in three other villages.
They said rescue workers were looking for dozens more bodies believed to be buried under the rubble in a cluster of border villages and towns bombarded by Israeli aircraft over the past three weeks.
Israel's three-week offensive in Lebanon has killed at least 578 people, mostly civilians. The Lebanese health minister, Mohammad Khalifeh, put the number of unrecovered bodies at 200, which would take the death toll to 750 in Lebanon. Fifty-one Israelis have also been killed.
Civil defence workers were using a bulldozer to clear rubble from where around 30 civilians were believed buried under houses destroyed in an Israeli air strike in Sreefa two weeks ago.
However, Israeli military officials today said the two-day pause in the bombing would not apply to strikes launched in retaliation for Hizbullah rocket attacks, or to stop the importation of weapons from Syria.
"If we identify a rocket launch there will be an air strike, or if we identify a truck loaded with weapons there will be one too," an army spokesman told Israel Radio.
The Taibe strike happened as Israeli troops pushed towards the village. Hizbullah rockets were fired from the border area close to Taibe this morning, landing near the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona.
Earlier today, the Israeli defence minister, Amir Peretz, told the Israeli parliament the army would "expand and strengthen" its attack on Hizbullah guerrillas and promised the cabinet would discuss an expansion of the ground operation.
"If an immediate ceasefire is declared, the extremists will rear their heads anew. In a few months we will be back in the same place," he said.
The renewed violence calls into question Ms Rice's further objective of a UN security council resolution on a ceasefire, which she hopes to achieve by the end of the week.
"This morning, as I head back to Washington, I take with me an emerging consensus on what is necessary for both an urgent ceasefire and lasting settlement. I am convinced we can achieve both this week," she told reporters in Jerusalem.
US domestic opinion is the major stumbling block to a UN ceasefire resolution, which, in any case, would not necessarily force Israel or Hizbullah to down their weapons.
Mr Blair said last night that all parties would need to show "maximum restraint" in advance of the resolution vote, and that the process would need to be speeded up after three weeks of diplomatic stalemate.
"Everyone is going to have to exercise maximum restraint, and maximum pressure and will, to get the UN security council resolution agreed where there is security for Israel but also the backing of Lebanon," he said.
An actual ceasefire agreement may well be more remote. A senior Israeli political source told Israel Radio today that an international peacekeeping force would need to be deployed before a ceasefire could take place.
"A ceasefire between Israel and Hizbullah will only take effect once the international forces are deployed on the border between Israel with Lebanon," the source was quoted as saying.

call into question- podawać w wątpliwość
ceasefire- zawieszenie broni, wstrzymanie ognia
cessation- przerwa, zaprzestanie
cluster- skupisko, gromada
deploy- rozlokowywać, rozmieszczać
dispatch- wysyłać
incursion- najazd, wtargnięcie
limp- utykać, iść z trudem
postpone- odraczać
postponement- odroczenie
rear- podnosić
recover- wydobywać
remote- odległy
resolution- postanowienie, uchwała
restraint- ograniczenie, umiar
retaliation- odwet
rubble- gruzy
schedule- planować, wyznaczać termin
stalemate- pat, impas
suspension- zawieszenie
take advantage of- wykorzystać
take effect- obowiązywać
toll- żniwo; death toll- liczba zabitych


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