‘STAND BY US BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’ –Lebanese premier Siniora urges the Arab leaders

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THE Lebanese premier Fu’ad Al Siniora has urged Arab leaders at a special Beirut conference, held on Monday, to strive for an immediate cease-fire and a withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Lebanon.

He told the leaders: ‘Your excellencies, dear brothers, you are meeting today in the heart of Beirut while several hundred metres away from this place the sounds of the aggressive and devastating raids are heard along with the cries of help by the wounded and the anguish of those who have been uprooted from their land, the smell of fire and the dust of debris left behind by Israeli barbarism.

‘This is the 26th day of this great human disaster, which would have wrecked a big country, let alone tiny Lebanon, which is small in its area, but very big by its people and brethren. The aggression has rendered it apart to the extent that the initial relief work was difficult, especially in the stricken southern Lebanon. If Israel’s atrocious work is not state terrorism what is?

‘During the first week of the war on Lebanon I declared Lebanon a stricken country, and it is indeed, especially since the Israeli destruction and killing has been continuing for 26 days now and has reached limits that have changed the face of Lebanon.

‘You know the impending danger on Lebanon – people, land, and state – and you have come today, brethren, for solidarity and assistance. . .

‘The first challenge that faces us, as we know, is that of achieving an immediate and unconditional cease-fire, which I have been calling for since the beginning of the aggression in a joint stand with the Speaker of the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies following the Qana massacre a week ago.

‘But it has not been achieved up to now despite the continuous meetings by the Security Council and the continuous consultations with all parties in the international community, and also despite the continuous Israeli daily massacres throughout the past three weeks, which are marked by crimes, woes and the violation of the norms of war and peace and international and human laws.

‘There has been a destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the martyrdom of about one thousand citizens, one third of whom are children below 12. The number of the displaced and evacuees has reached about one million and they continue to increase.

‘Two days ago, the enemy addressed an ultimatum to the population of Al-Nabatiyah and other towns to leave their homes or they would face the same fate as the people of Marun al-Ra’s, Bint Jubayl, Qana, Sidon, Ba’labak, Al-Qaa, Ayta al-Sha’b, Marwahin, Sarifa, and scores of other towns and villages.

‘Finally, there was the horrific massacre that took place an hour ago in the town of Hula, in which more than 40 martyrs fell due to the deliberate Israeli shelling. These towns and others have witnessed massacres that have not spared anyone, from the south of Lebanon to its mountain, plain, north and east, as well as Beirut and its great and steadfast southern quarter.

‘The Israeli Army has not spared a bridge, an establishment, a road, a civil centre, or human gathering without shelling it, including hospitals, UN offices and international forces headquarters, people’s homes and means of transportation. They shelled even the convoys of relief and assistance sent to us by our Arab brethren, for no reason other than out of hatred and vengeance; nothing but hatred and vengeance.

‘For the sake of all that, for the sake of confronting the present and forthcoming human disasters, for the sake of absorbing this formidable situation with the modest capabilities we have and the additional capabilities given to us by our Arab brethren and the international and humanitarian quarters, and for the sake of strengthening the steadfastness and maintaining a social and security coherence we need, as we said before, an immediate and decisive cease-fire. . .

‘We must oblige the Israeli aggressor to stop the hostilities, immediately withdraw behind the Blue Line, leave the Shabaa Farms and hand them over to the international forces, exchange prisoners and produce the maps on the mines.

‘As for the other thing, which is equal to the first in importance, it is the determination to adopt drastic measures so that the aggression will not be repeated and the cease-fire will be comprehensive and lasting, and thus become the key to returning to the Armistice Agreement concluded in 1949.

‘I presented at the Rome Conference in aid of Lebanon on 26 July a comprehensive and integrated proposal on a basic solution, which was unanimously approved by the Lebanese cabinet, the spiritual summit that was held at the Maronite Patriarchate in Bikirki, and four days ago by the summit conference of the Islamic Conference Organisation. These are its seven points, which are now within the sight and hearing of the international community:

‘An immediate and lasting cease-fire in conjunction with: First, a pledge to release the Lebanese and Israeli prisoners and detainees through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

‘Second: Withdrawal of the Israeli Army behind the Blue Line and the return of the displaced to their towns and villages.

‘Third: An undertaking by the Security Council to place Shabaa Farms and Kfar Shuba under the authority of the United Nations until the delineation of the borders and the establishment of the authority of the Lebanese government on these territories. It is understood that while the United Nations is assuming authority, these territories will be open to Lebanese landlords. Israel shall also hand over the remaining maps on the mines in southern Lebanon to the United Nations.

‘Fourth: The Lebanese government shall establish its authority on all its territories through the deployment of its legitimate armed forces, which will confine weapons and authority to the Lebanese government, as stipulated in the Al-Ta’if National Accord document.

‘Fifth: Strengthening the UN international force operating in southern Lebanon and increasing its number and equipment and expanding its tasks and the scope of its work as necessary with the view to facilitating immediate humanitarian activities, relief work and the maintenance of security and stability in the south to enable the displaced to return to their homes.

‘Sixth: The United Nations, in cooperation with the parties concerned, shall take the necessary measures to reactivate the Armistice Agreement, which Lebanon and Israel signed in 1949, and to ensure abidance by the provisions of this agreement, in addition to discussing any possibility to amend its provisions or improve them, as necessary.

‘Seventh: The international community shall pledge to aid Lebanon in all fields and help it with the enormous task resulting from the humanitarian, social and economic tragedy that has befallen the country, especially in the field of relief work, reconstruction and rebuilding the national economy.

‘Brothers: We believe that these steps must take place concurrently to enable us to liberate the land, including Shabaa Farms, exchange prisoners, remove the mines and return to the 1949 Armistice Agreement, with the necessary amendments, and the implementation of the Al-Ta’if National Accord document to enable the Lebanese Army to go as far as the international borders and to establish the authority of the Lebanese government on all of its territories and assume sole right, duty and responsibility so that there will be no weapons other than those of the legitimate Lebanese authority.

‘Brothers: This programme does not seem difficult to implement, since it does not ask for more than Lebanon’s right to liberate its territory and the Lebanese government’s right to establish its authority on all of its territories, as in the case of all states in the modern and old worlds.

‘I have observed a welcoming for this plan at the Rome Conference and other forums. But, it is difficult nevertheless. Its difficulty comes from the need to convince the international community of it so that it will be reflected in the UN resolution, which all the Lebanese hope that it would not only be close to, but also suitable for the achievement of the intended aims; foremost, a complete, comprehensive and lasting cease-fire and Israel’s withdrawal from the Lebanese territories it occupied, including Shabaa Farms, and cessation of its attacks on Lebanese sovereignty and the establishment of the Lebanese government’s sole authority on its territory without any delay.

‘Therefore, we need your support here, as you have supported and are supporting us in the relief effort and the reconstruction.

‘The guaranteeing of the implementation of both the cease-fire and the achievement of the other points depends also on Israel, which is definitely not pleased with all the points of the programme, and this is an additional point which calls on the international community to be convinced of this programme and work persistently for its implementation.

‘It is understood that most UN resolutions pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict have not been implemented by Israel up to now. In fact, it went in the opposite direction and its violation of UN resolutions received the approval of some major parties in the world.

‘The influential powers in the international community must finally realise, as we have tried to impress on them and make them understand throughout the past several weeks, that any UN resolution pertaining to the current crisis must fulfil two basic conditions: The fulfilment of Lebanon’s demands for independence and sovereignty over its entire national soil, and oblige Israel to cease firing and withdraw behind the Blue Line and also enable the legitimate Lebanese authority to establish its control through its regular forces on all of its territories, including Shabaa Farms.

‘Brothers: We need today, before tomorrow actually, a unified and a decisive Arab stand to rectify the Security Council resolution so that it will constitute a real step towards a lasting solution and to preserve our political formula and internal stability. Lebanon’s social and political makeup cannot stand the repetition of invasions, aggressions, conflicts and local, regional, or international trusteeships.

‘I am not pleased with the drafts that have reached us in the past two days of the draft resolution that is being discussed by the Security Council. They do not only lack the two conditions I mentioned, but also do not achieve a real cease-fire.

‘Therefore, it behoves our Arab brothers, who have graciously come and are welcomed in their home, to back us today, to stand by us before the international community and regional axes. It should be a firm and decisive solidarity stand that will contribute towards placing Lebanon on the path of safety and sovereignty with every possible effort.

‘And, to be honest and transparent with you, our brothers and friends; I tell you while you are supporting us with the relief work and reconstruction, that we the Lebanese need in this critical situation and all situations a serious political, relief and construction action to restore the confidence of our citizens and brothers in us and our state and to acquire greater credibility with the friends and respect and reverence by the opponents. . .’

The assembled Arab Foreign Ministers agreed to form an Arab League delegation to attend the UN Security Council to press for the draft resolution to be amended to include Lebanon’s concerns before any vote on it by the UN Security Council.