Changes Likely in UN Resolution on Lebanon

NEW YORK - Changes are likely to be made in the draft text of a resolution on ending the crisis in Lebanon before it is tabled for a vote, it emerged from deliberations yesterday at the UN Security Council. However, diplomats at the UN declined to offer an opinion as to when the Security Council would meet for another discussion and a vote on the resolution.

Initial responses to the draft prepared by the United States and France have been positive.

UN sources said that Saturday's meeting on the draft resolution was positive, and that even the Russian representatives were moderate in their response to its wording.

However, once the text was sent to the respective capitals of Security Council members, the ambassadors returned to the deliberations with various concerns about the wording.

French ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de la Sabliere warned that "opening the text for changes will be problematic and cause difficulties."

However, diplomats noted that the U.S. and France will not be able to ignore the reservations of key Security Council members, such as Russia and China, and will have to change or correct the wording.

A senior Western diplomat told Haaretz yesterday that "it is too early to discuss changes, whether substantive or cosmetic."

Qatar, the Security Council's only Arab member, is expected to oppose a number of articles.

American and French representatives at the UN are pushing to expedite the approval process and said they would like to see a vote take place tonight, or at the latest tomorrow.

Other diplomats, however, assessed that the vote would not take place for a day or two.

"I think that everyone in the Security Council agrees that the resolution should be adopted as soon as possible, and if possible on Monday," said Japan's ambassador to the UN, Kenzo Oshima.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she is aware of the resolution's limitations. "We are trying to deal with the problems that have plagued Lebanon for years, and these problems will not have a solution through a single Security Council resolution. I cannot exclude the possibility that limiting fighting and clashes will continue in Lebanon in the future," Rice said.

Referring to the negative response on the part of the Lebanese government and Hezbollah, Rice said, "I know that Hezbollah said all sorts of things. I heard it all. But after the proposed resolution is approved by the Security Council, we will know who really wants to end the violence and who does not."