May 9, 1996 in Nation/World

Lebanon Asks U.N. To Condemn Israel

Associated Press

Lebanon asked the Security Council on Wednesday to condemn Israel for shelling a U.N. camp and killing at least 91 people, basing the request on U.N. report countering Israel’s claim that the attack was accidental.

“The responsibility of Israel is very clear for all the public opinion of the world,” Lebanese Ambassador Samir Moubarak said.

The United States has criticized the U.N. report on the April 18 shelling of the U.N. garrison at Qana as one-sided. The report said the pattern of shell impacts at the base was inconsistent with what usually happens when a target is overshot.

Israel insists it was targeting Hezbollah guerrilla positions near the camp, where Lebanese civilians had taken refuge from fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

Following the attack, the council called for a cease-fire between Israel and the Islamic militants but rejected an Arab-sponsored resolution that blamed Israel exclusively for the fighting in southern Lebanon.

Moubarak said he would ask the council to take up the issue again in the wake of the U.N. report, which suggested - without saying outright - that the attack was probably intentional.

An Arab diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there appeared to be little support within the 15-member Security Council for a resolution condemning Israel. He said the Arabs would press instead for a non-binding public statement from the council on the shelling.

James Rubin, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said Ambassador Madeleine Albright was disturbed that the report “chose to draw unjustified conclusions about this incident that can only divide and polarize the environment.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Ehud Barak phoned U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and complained that the finding was “absurd.”

The U.S. and Israeli view of the report was not widely shared, even among America’s Western European allies. British Ambassador John Weston said the United Nations had “carried out a very through investigation” which deserved “to be taken seriously.”

xxxx MIDEAST DIPLOMATS TO DISCUSS TRUCE Washington - The Clinton administration will bring together diplomats from Syria, Lebanon, Israel and France on Friday to arrange monitoring of the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas. Dennis Ross, senior U.S. trouble-shooter for the Middle East, will preside at the meeting here of the countries’ ambassadors. The group will include Syria’s Walid al-Moualem, who is also Syria’s chief negotiator in suspended peace talks with Israel. The cease-fire was designed not only to halt the fighting but also help reopen the negotiations Israel has held sporadically with Syria and Lebanon since 1991. It calls on Hezbollah not to fire rockets into Israel and on Israel not to target civilians in Lebanon.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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