Israel: We’ll disarm Hizbullah if UN can’t


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

IDF: We'll disarm Hizbullah if UN can't

Aug. 16, 2006

The 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 on Tuesday.

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.

Israeli 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 one side."

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.

According to 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.

France 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.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that 28 countries had attended a 
technical meeting on Saturday and 17 countries had attended a similar meeting on

"We hope to have a more formal meeting with troop contributors on Thursday," he 

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 

"We would like to get firm commitments of troops as soon as possible," Dujarric 

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.

AP contributed to this report.

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