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UNSC Unanimously Adopts Resolution on Lebanon
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The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution, calling for Israeli troops withdrawal and authorizing an increase of the existing UN force in Lebanon to 15,000 troops to help Lebanese troops take control of south Lebanon as Israel withdraws.

France and the United States, cosponsors of the draft, came up with a compromise final version after days of hard wrangling.

The resolution has left out some key demands from both Israel and Lebanon in efforts to bring out a workable arrangement.

The carefully crafted draft is believed to offer the best chance yet for peace after more than four weeks of war between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas that has killed over 1,000 people, destroyed Lebanon's infrastructure and inflamed tensions across the Middle East.

The resolution expresses "utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel," stressing theneed to end the violence.

It also addressed the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including an unconditional release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah on July 12.

France, a country with traditional ties with Lebanon, has tried to incorporate Lebanese positions over Israeli troops withdrawal, the disputed Shebaa farm area and other key issues.

The final version of the resolution worded in a way that best accommodates positions of both parties.

The resolution "beared in mind" Lebanon's request for an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, "determined to act for this withdrawal to happen at the earliest" and took "due note" of the proposals made in the seven-point plan of the Lebanese government regarding the Shebaa farms area.

Shebaa Farms area was seized by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and it is also a hot spot for cross-border fighting between Israeli troops and Hezbollah in recent years.

In the key issue of cease-fire, the resolution calls for a "full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations."

Unlike the previous draft that proposed the establishment of an international stabilization force, the resolution calls on the Lebanese government and UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to deploy their forces together throughout south Lebanon and calls upon the government of Israel, "as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from southern Lebanon in parallel."

The resolution authorizes an increase in the force presence of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, which, in addition to its exiting mandate, will be entrusted with monitoring the cessation of hostilities, accompanying and supporting the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south and in other duties.

The resolution also calls on Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution based on full respect for the Blue Line by both parties, security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, full implementation of relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 and 1680.

The resolution also asks UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to putin place measures to ensure UNIFIL is able to carry out the functions envisaged in the resolution.

(Xinhua News Agency August 12, 2006)

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