US, France reach deal on Lebanon ceasefire
France and the United States reached a deal Friday on a final draft resolution aimed at ending the monthlong conflict between Israel and Hizbullah. Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said the resolution would give U.N. forces in south Lebanon a mandate under Chapter 6 of the U.N. Charter, which Israel has previously opposed.
The U.N. force, known by its acronym UNIFIL, would help coordinate the deployment of Lebanese forces to the south. The U.S. and France had originally wanted UNIFIL force deployed under the Charter's Chapter 7, which would give the troops even more robust rules of engagement.
"You never get a deal like this with everybody getting everything that they want," Beckett said. "The question is, has everybody got enough for this to stick and for it to be enforceable? Nobody wants to go back to where we were before this last episode started."
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora received a copy of the U.S.-French draft resolution, government officials said. He was studying the document and contacting politicians for their input, said the officials, according to the AP.
Earlier, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Friday ordered the Army to implement an expanded ground operation in Lebanon. According to Haaretz, the cabinet approved an operation Wednesday calling for a push to the Litani River, but delayed it until diplomatic efforts were exhausted.
Apparently reports throughout Friday on a delay on a deal on a United Nations Security Council resolution on a cease-fire led to the decision. "We said two days ago that we would stop the fire, either militarily or diplomatically," an Israeli political source told Reuters. "We see that the ceasefire deal in the U.N. is not making the required progress, and therefore we have authorised the military action."