Even as Israel raked Lebanon with new air attacks, the Lebanese government demanded changes Wednesday in a U.S. plan to stop the fighting. Beirut said the proposal would perpetuate Israel’s control of its southern region and violate the basic tenets of a Mideast peace settlement.
Israel bombarded Hezbollah targets across southern Lebanon for the seventh straight day, and the guerrillas sent rockets crashing down on northern Israel. Two people were killed and 17 were wounded in Lebanon, police reported.
Some 400,000 Lebanese have streamed out of southern communities to escape the fighting, and they are squeezed into relatives’ houses, cars, and crowded school classrooms. At least 17,000 people have been evacuated from northern Israel.
The United States, Israel’s main ally, and France, Lebanon’s former colonial ruler, have been trying separately to broker an armistice. Neither proposal has been officially disclosed.
Lebanon’s prime minister, Rafik Hariri, and foreign minister, Faris Bweiz, criticized the U.S. plan because it doesn’t demand an immediate Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
Bweiz, in Cairo, Egypt, for an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers, said he had demanded basic changes in the proposals and was waiting to hear from Washington.
The U.S. plan, he said, would undermine a 1978 U.N. Security Council resolution that demands an unconditional Israeli withdrawal from the 440-square-mile buffer zone Israel carved out of southern Lebanon in 1985 to block cross-border attacks. Hezbollah has been fighting for more than a decade to drive Israeli troops from the border zone.