Report: U.S.-French Alliance on U.N. Cease-Fire Resolution Crumbling
UNITED NATIONS – The French-American alliance at the United Nations over a Mideast cease-fire agreement is crumbling, sources tell FOX News.
The French U.N. delegation has joined with Arab nations and is now calling for a complete and immediate Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon as a condition of any cease-fire, the sources said.
In addition, the French have reportedly agreed with Arab demands that the Lebanese force be accompanied only by UNIFIL, with no international force to be deployed.
• CountryWatch: Israel | Lebanon | Syria | Iran
Syria, Iran and Hezbollah are pushing to take Lebanon's offer to deploy 15,000 forces into the embattled southern region along with UNIFIL forces to gain stability without an international force there after more than three weeks of intense fighting.
The diplomatic efforts came as thirteen Lebanese fell victim to Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon as Israel announced it was planning to push further into Lebanon Military to target rocket sites. (Full story)
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The United States State Department said Lebanon's proposal was "an important proposal," but one Bush administration official told FOX News that the United States is drawing a "line in the sand," saying that an international force has to deployed alongside the Lebanese forces.
The United States and France wrangled Tuesday over ways to allay Lebanon's fears that Israel would win too much from a draft U.N. Security Council cease-fire resolution, as three Arab foreign ministers argued for changes to the text.
In a private meeting, the Americans and French considered two tentative proposals they hoped would both accommodate Lebanon's demands and revive diplomatic efforts to end the Israel-Hezbollah fighting.
Both nations agree on one proposal: that the resolution should support Lebanon's offer Monday to deploy 15,000 troops to monitor a buffer zone in the south, once under de facto Hezbollah control and now partly occupied by Israeli troops, diplomats said.
The other proposal, still in the early stages, was to deploy some sort of international force to Chebaa Farms, an area along the Lebanese and Syrian borders occupied by Israeli troops, diplomats said. Lebanon had made that demand previously and was upset when the original draft resolution did not reflect it.
The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the talks.
The discussions were held ahead of a Security Council meeting set for later Tuesday in which a delegation of three top Arab officials were to spell out their objections to the U.S.-French draft resolution.
After that, the delegation planned to meet privately with U.S. and French diplomats to discuss concrete changes to the draft.
On Monday, Arab ministers agreed to send a delegation consisting of the foreign ministers of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa to plead Lebanon's case.
Washington and Paris had been expected to circulate a new draft of the resolution Monday but decided to wait to hear from the Arab delegation. The council planned to hold closed consultations after hearing from the delegation, and could introduce a new draft late in the day or on Wednesday.
Because of Security Council rules, 24 hours must pass before a resolution can be voted on. That means any vote probably won't occur until Thursday at the earliest.
Tarek Mitri, sent to the U.N. as a special envoy by Lebanon's Council of Ministers, criticized the resolution's failure to demand an Israeli pullout and its call for Israel to halt only offensive military operations, which he called "a recipe for the continuation of violence."
Hezbollah has said it will reject any halt in fighting that leaves Israeli troops in Lebanon, and Israel has insisted it won't withdraw until it is guaranteed Hezbollah rocket fire will stop.
FOX News' James Rosen and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Complete coverage of the Mideast Meltdown is available in FOXNews.com's Mideast Center.