THREATENS TO RESUME WAR IF HIZBULLAH REFUSES TO DISARM
IDF will have to resume operations in Lebanon
if the expanded United Nations force being assembled does not fulfill its obligation to dismantle Hizbullah, an official in
the Prime Minister's Office warned.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah reportedly
reached a deal allowing Hizbullah to keep its weapons but refrain from exhibiting them in public. Israeli officials called
the arrangement a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which passed over the weekend and was approved on Sunday
by the cabinet.
"The resolution is clear that Hizbullah needs to be removed from the border area, embargoed and dismantled,"
the official said. "If the resolution is not implemented, we will have to take action to prevent the rearming of Hizbullah.
I don't think backtracking will serve any useful purpose. There has to be pressure on Hizbullah to disarm or there will have
to be another round."
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to raise the issue when she meets in New York on Wednesday with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Annan angered Israeli
officials when he told Channel 2 on Tuesday that "dismantling Hizbullah is not the direct mandate of the UN," which could
only help Lebanon disarm the organization.
Annan upset officials further when he said that deploying international forces in Lebanon would take "weeks or months," and not days as expected.
officials said the IDF would not complete its withdrawal from southern Lebanon
until the international force was deployed - even if it took months - to prevent a vacuum in Lebanon that could endanger Israeli civilians. An official in the Prime Minister's
Office accused Annan of having an anti-Israel agenda.
"He has been one-sided," the official said. "He tried to be
even-handed in a situation that was clearly asymmetrical. When one side committed crimes against humanity and engaged in genocide
and the other side defended itself, he cannot treat us in the same manner."
Annan rejected charges of bias, saying,
"I have been very hard on Hizbullah and condemned Hizbullah for what it has done. I have condemned Israel for what I consider excessive use of force but it doesn't mean I am taking
Livni will also meet with US diplomatic officials and Jewish leaders during her 24-hour visit. The goals
of the trip include advancing Israel's interests in talks on implementing
the cease-fire in Lebanon, expediting
the deployment of an international force and bringing about the return of the kidnapped IDF soldiers.
Annan is set
to make key decisions about the role of the multinational force. Livni had planned to visit New York over the weekend but her original trip was blocked by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovich said implementation of the cease-fire was "good so far" and "going
according to plan." He said Livni wanted to make sure that UNIFIL's effectiveness would be maximized.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev, the two main tasks of the expanded force would be enforcing a "Hizbullah-free zone"
in south Lebanon and an international
arms embargo on Hizbullah. He said the resolution detailed the placement of international forces at all crossing points into
Lebanon, comprising those from Syria as well as airports and seaports.
"The resolution meets Israel's expectations," Regev said. "The focus now is on ensuring
its full and complete implementation. Unfortunately, there have been too many UN resolutions on Lebanon that have gathered dust in the archives and have not changed anything.
The challenge now is to bring about the expeditious implementation of 1701."
Under the UN resolution, 15,000 Lebanese
troops, with the help of an expanded UNIFIL, would take over the area between the Litani
River, 30 kilometers north of Israel,
and the frontier to create a buffer zone free of Hizbullah gunmen.
"She will discuss with Annan the importance of
having the international forces in Lebanon
as expeditiously as possible," Regev said of Livni.
Israel wants a speedy deployment "firstly to allow the Israeli
troops to pull out of south Lebanon and to ensure the creation of the Hizbullah-free zone in the south... and secondly to
make sure that the international arms embargo on Hizbullah is implemented," he said.
"We have to have the resolution
translated into reality," Regev said.
Forty-five countries have attended technical sessions for potential contributors
to a beefed-up UNIFIL, and the United Nations is hopeful that the first announcements of new troop commitments will be made
at a formal meeting expected to take place on Thursday, UN officials said.
and the United States have sent military
planners to meet with UN peacekeeping planners to determine how countries could participate in the proposed 15,000-strong
UN force, said a UN official familiar with the process.
The doctrine of operations for the force is reportedly in
draft form and will be shared with the potential troop contributors at Thursday's meeting, the UN official said.
spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that 28 countries had attended a technical meeting on Saturday and 17 countries
had attended a similar meeting on Monday.
"We hope to have a more formal meeting with troop contributors on Thursday,"
The UN has not received any formal offers of troops for UNIFIL, although France,
Italy, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia
have indicated they would make significant contributions. A dozen other countries have also expressed a willingness to help.
"We would like to get firm commitments of troops as soon as possible," Dujarric said.
France is expected to lead the expanded force, which currently
has 2,000 troops and is commanded by French Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini. But UN officials and diplomats said France had not made any announcement of how many troops it
planned to send, and that this was holding up announcements of troop commitments from other countries.
"It's a chicken
and egg situation, as it often is in our efforts to generate a force," Dujarric said. "We're dependent on the member states
to come up with firm offers... We're in intensive discussions with them, and hopefully we'll flush out and get some firm commitments."
US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are also making calls to drum up troops for the
expanded UN force, US Ambassador to the
UN John Bolton said.
A French colonel started working with UN military planners on Tuesday, and Bolton
said the Pentagon was also sending a military planner. A French general is expected at UN headquarters on Wednesday to work
as a liaison between the UN Peace-keeping Department and Paris, UN diplomats said.