Israel has pulled out of a committee overseeing the ceasefire in Lebanon following an upsurge in Hizbollah attacks on its troops in southern Lebanon, Israeli public radio reported Sunday.
Israel will not rejoin the body unless the United States and France, which are also members, force Hizbollah to cease the attacks against Israeli troops for at least a week, the radio said, citing military leaders.
The ceasefire committee has not met since February due to Israel's suspension of its participation after an Israeli soldier was killed in a Hizbollah attack.
The committee, to which Lebanon and Syria also belong, was set up in 1996 in the wake of a huge Israeli military operation in Lebanon, which left 175 Lebanese civilians dead.
Israel was shelled from southern Lebanon Saturday but there were no casualties, military sources said.
The shells landed near Israeli military positions on the border with Lebanon, they said, adding that there had been no damage.
In Lebanon, Hizbollah movement said it had fired Katyusha rockets at an Israeli military position near the border to avenge the wounding of civilians by Israeli bombings.
UN EXPECTS OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION FROM ISRAEL
On Saturday also, the United Nations was expecting Israel to officially notify it of its intention to withdraw from south Lebanon, UN and diplomatic sources said Saturday.
The letter from the Israeli government to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan confirming Israel's unilateral withdrawal from its "security zone" by the end of July is expected to arrive by Monday.
According to one diplomat, the UN also expects Israel to clearly state in the letter it will be pulling back to the border of 1923, recognized internationally by the French-British Paulet-Newcombe convention.
Israel's letter is expected to speed up talks between the main concerned parties -- Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the UN, the United States and France -- in a bid to avoid a flare-up of violence in the region once Israel has left the zone.
On April 6, Annan told the UN Security Council he was waiting for Israel's formal request before he took steps to help implement an Israeli pullback from Lebanon, his Middle East envoy said.
LAHOUD: ISRAEL WILL WITHDARW OUT OF FEAR NOT COMMITMENT TO UN RESOLUTIONS
Lebanese president Emile Lahoud said in an interview published on Sunday that the expected Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon was due to material and human casualties and losses and not as an implementation of the UN resolution 425, which was already rejected by Israel since 1978.
Lahoud, speaking to editor in chief of the Kuwaiti al-Rai al-Aam newspaper Jasem Budai on the eve of his Gulf tour, said "we don’t welcome the withdrawal but we celebrate defeating Israel."
In Saudi Arabia, Lahoud met King Fahd for talks on regional developments of Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Kuwait’s official news agency (Kuna) reported.
The Lebanese leader briefed King Fahd about efforts to rebuild the infrastructure facilities, destroyed by the recent Israeli aggressions.
Lahoud stressed, during the talks, that recurrent Israeli threats will not scare Lebanon, which will continue its struggle against the occupier.
The president’s tour will also take him beside Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait, to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and Iran – (Agencies)— Photo AFP.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )