Jordan urges quick UN intervention to end Lebanon, Gaza raids
Olmert to Annan: Operation will end after Hezbollah is disarmed and UN Resolution 1559 implemented.
Jordan's King Abdullah II telephoned UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Saturday to urge the United Nations to intervene to stop fighting between Israel and the militant Hamas and Hezbollah groups in Gaza and Lebanon, the official Petra news agency reported.
It said Abdullah "expressed deep concern" over Israel's widening military offensives.
"While the king expressed appreciation for UN efforts to try to calm the crisis ... he called for the United Nations to intervene immediately to help end the crisis in Lebanon and Gaza," the agency said.
"The deteriorating situation in both places will only lead to more bloodshed and people suffering," it added.
Abdullah also ordered two convoys of medicine, tents, blankets and other humanitarian aid to Gaza and Lebanon, a royal palace statement said Saturday.
Some 350 tons of supplies would be delivered Monday, after getting necessary permission from Syrian authorities to travel to Lebanon by land.
On Friday, the Jordanian monarch spoke with U.S. President George W. Bush and urged "action" to end Israel's military operations in Lebanon and Gaza.
Lebanon urged the United Nations Security Council on Friday to quickly impose a cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon, but Israel said it was trying to end a terrorist occupation of its neighbor and insisted the Beirut government secretly backed its actions.
Lebanese Foreign Ministry official Nouhad Mahmoud and Israel's Ambassador Dan Gillerman addressed an emergency session of the 15-nation council as Israel intensified attacks on Hezbollah targets and civilian installations and Hezbollah fighters fired more rockets across the border into Israel.
Hours earlier, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Israel would not end its military operation in Lebanon until the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for disarming Hezbollah and the deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon.
The council afterward issued only a brief statement welcoming Annan's decision to send a team to the region to encourage restraint. Council members said they would not rule out further action next week.
Mahmoud said Israel's action was aimed at "bringing Lebanon to its knees and subverting it by any means."
"I need not explain to you who is the victim and who is the aggressor," he said, asking for a "comprehensive, immediate cease-fire, a lifting of the air and sea blockade imposed upon Lebanon and... an end to Israeli aggression."
Gillerman, however, said Lebanon government had brought the Israeli actions on itself, by allowing Hezbollah to remain armed and keep de-facto control over southern Lebanon, from which it could cross the border to seize two Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
"Lebanon is today occupied by terror," he said. He accused Hezbollah of comprising "an axis of terror" along with the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Syria and Iran, which he said support Hamas and Hezbollah.
He urged Lebanon to free itself from the axis by extending its authority across all its territory.
Many Lebanese shared his view of the crisis, he said.
Addressing Mahmoud, Gillerman said: "You know deep in your heart that if you could, you would be sitting here right next to me right now because you know that we are doing the right thing and that if we succeed, Lebanon would be the beneficiary."
Bolton said Washington was working with the parties to the conflict and other concerned leaders "to help restore calm and achieve a resolution to this crisis."
He called on Hezbollah to release the two captured soldiers, urged Lebanon to disarm all militias on its soil, and told Syria and Iran to end support for Hezbollah and Hamas.
But Syrian Abassador Bashar Jaafari, speaking to reporters outside the council chamber because he had not been invited to the urgent session, said Washington's veto Thursday of a resolution drafted by Arab nations calling on Israel to immediately end a separate two-week military incursion in Gaza "gave Israel a green light to go ahead."
"Unfortunately, the behavior of the American delegation is not the behavior of a big power, responsible for maintaining peace and security," Jaafari said. "It is about degrading [a] deteriorating situation and encouraging Israel to go ahead with its aggression against Syria and maybe someone else in the area - who knows." (Click here for more quotes from the meeting)
During their conversation earlier in the day, Annan informed Olmert that he was sending a UN team to the region. Olmert said he would cooperate with the team only if its objective would be to return the soldiers abducted by Hezbollah and the full implementation of Resolution 1559.
Sources in Jerusalem stated Thursday that as a condition for a cease-fire, Israel would demand that Hezbollah outposts be removed from the Israel-Lebanon border and that a buffer zone be created on the Lebanese side of the border. According to the sources, the aim of Operation Just Reward is to alter the balance of power between Israel and Hezbollah.
Sources in Jerusalem believe it will be difficult to demand the implementation of resolution 1559 as a condition for a cease-fire. Israel will also demand the release of the two soldiers abducted by Hezbollah earlier this week.
Lebanese Minister for Social Affairs Mila Mawad said Thursday that the government was preparing to announce its cease-fire proposal to Hezbollah and Israel, under which Hezbollah would be required to free the soldiers. The proposal does not mention the release of Lebanese prisoners.
When asked by a reporter why Lebanon does not disarm Hezbollah, Mawad said the organization was brought into the government to grant its members the feeling they are Lebanese.
Israel believes Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah did not intend to ignite such a dramatic escalation when his fighters kidnapped two Israel Defense Forces soldiers and killed eight others on Tuesday.
The move was apparently intended return to the spotlight to Hezbollah's campaign for the release of Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese national jailed in Israel for the killing of a Nahariya family.