Monday, August 14, 2006

Truce will be Israel's last, Lebanon envoy declares

Yahoo! News

Truce will be Israel's last, Lebanon envoy declares

Sun Aug 13, 8:54 PM ET

Lebanon's UN ambassador bitterly slammed Israel's month-long bombardment of his country ahead of a hard-won truce, and vowed that the treaty would be Israel's last with any Middle East country.

"Lebanon will be, I think, the last state to sign a peace treaty with Israel," UN ambassador Nouhad Mahmoud told CNN television's "Late Edition" program, without explaining the remark.

He called the agreement a "crucial" test for all the parties involved.

"Now it is the moment of truth for everyone, and we'll see who will abide by the Security Council resolutions and who will not, so (what) we have this week is very crucial," Mahmoud said.

The diplomat added that the 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to be dispatched to south Lebanon to help keep the peace alongside a similarly-sized international UN force "are not going to use force" to disarm the Hezbollah militia which has been battling Israel.

"Hezbollah will just leave the area as armed elements as I understand it, and the Lebanese army will take over the whole region along with the United Nations forces," he said

Of the UN cessation of hostilities agreement concluded Saturday after weeks of negotiation, he said "that could have happened through negotiation from the very first day, but the Israelis chose the escalation, and chose to have this war against Lebanon to destroy the whole country and to kill more than a thousand people," he said. "That was their choice."

UN Resolution 1701 passed Friday calls for an end to hostilities in Lebanon and the deployment of up to 15,000 UN peacekeeping troops in the south, where Israel has been battling Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas for a month.

The accord, accepted by Lebanon on Saturday and Israel Sunday, also calls for Israeli troops to withdraw as Lebanese and UN forces deploy to the Hezbollah heartland in the south.

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