Lebanon, Syria reject U.S.-French cease-fire plan
The Syrian foreign minister declared on Sunday that the U.S.-French cease-fire plan was "a recipe for the continuation of the war" and warned Syrian armed forces were under orders to respond immediately if Israel attacks. "If Israel attacks Syria by any mean, on the ground, by air, our leadership ordered the armed forces to reply immediately," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said after meeting Lebanese President Emile Lahoud in Beirut.
Earlier, the Lebanese parliamentary speaker, a Shiite who has been negotiating on behalf of Hizbullah, also rejected the U.S.-French draft U.N. cease-fire resolution because it did not include the government's plan for ending the fighting.
According to AFP, Nabih Berri stated Lebanon would not accept any terms that did not include a government plan calling for an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of Israeli troops. "Lebanon, all of Lebanon, rejects any talks or any draft resolution that does not include the seven-point government framework," Berri said at a news conference in Beirut.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora first offered the plan, later adopted by his Cabinet, during the Rome crisis summit July 26.
The seven-point proposal calls for a mutual release of prisoners held by Israeli and Hizbullah and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. It foresees the Lebanese government taking control of southern Lebanon with the help of an international force.
The U.S.-French proposal, which was expected to be voted later today, calls for Hizbullah to halt all military operations and for Israel to stop its offensive against Lebanon.
The draft resolution does not require an immediate Israeli withdrawal to its side of the common border. "We always spoke about an immediate cease fire. We never spoke about ending military operations because this is in a way like legitimatizing the occupation, as if the war is being legitimatized," Berri said.
According to him, the U.S.-French draft resolution was fundamentally tilted in favor of Israel. "If Israel has not won the war but still gets all this, what would have happened had they won" the war, Berri asked.
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