Lebanese PM Rejects U.N. Cease-Fire Plan
Lebanon’s government rejected a U.N. cease-fire plan backed by President Bush on Monday, demanding Israel immediately withdraw even before a peacekeeping force arrives and promising to send 15,000 troops to take control of the Hezbollah stronghold along the border.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora’s stand, delivered in a tearful speech to Arab foreign ministers, came on a day in which 49 Lebanese were killed — one of the deadliest days for Lebanese in nearly four weeks of fighting. The rejection, ratified by the Cabinet, complicated efforts to find a speedy diplomatic solution to the deadly conflict.
Saniora’s Cabinet, which includes two Hezbollah ministers, voted unanimously to send 15,000 troops to stand between Israel and Hezbollah should a cease-fire take hold and Israeli forces withdraw south of the border. The move was an attempt to show that Lebanon has the will and ability to assert control over its south, which is run by Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite Muslim militia backed by Syria and Iran.
It’s a little late in the game to make that statement, isn’t it?
Moreover, it’s not even clear that it matters what Lebanon’s government thinks. The warring parties are, for all intents and purposes, Israel and Hezbollah (and, by proxy, Iran and Syria). If Saniora agreed and Hezbollah did not, certainly, it would be meaningless. If Hezbollah agrees, Lebanon’s consent is, likewise, irrelevant.