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Pressuring the U.N. on the Ceasefire Draft

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Israel's decision to expand its ground offensive in Lebanon has increased pressure on the United Nations. Diplomats at the U.N. are working to come up with a cease-fire resolution that will satisfy all sides. Lebanon and the Arab League have objected to the current draft proposal drawn up by France and the U.S. They say it favors Israel.

As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, that has led to more rounds of meetings today at the U.N.

JACKIE NORTHAM reporting:

There was little doubt that the proposed cease-fire resolution that was stitched together over the weekend was fragile and would likely require a little tinkering before it was put to a vote.

Now it appears there are divisions between the co-sponsors, France and the U.S., over some key provisions in the document. The breadth of those differences began to widen after Lebanon and Arab governments objected to the draft resolution, particularly the provision that says Israeli troops can remain in south Lebanon until an international military force can take over.

Lebanon and the Arab League say that's unacceptable and that Israel should leave the region immediately after a cease-fire takes hold. Lebanon also offered to send 15,000 soldiers to the south of the country to work alongside a U.N. peacekeeping force.

After a round of meetings with the delegation of Arab leaders, France proposed new language for the draft cease-fire resolution, saying it would like to see Israel begin withdrawing once Lebanese troops move in. In other words, not wait until an international force gets to the region.

Today John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador the U.N., said this is not an option, that Washington wanted to wait until an international force was in place before Israel withdrew, an international force that's capable of preventing Hezbollah from getting more weapons and attacking Israel. Bolton downplayed any notion of a deep split between the U.S. and France, and suggested that a resolution could be put to a vote soon.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jackie Northam
Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.