CAIRO, Egypt, AP -Arab countries criticized a U.N. Security Council resolution for not clearly labeling Israel the main aggressor in the conflict with Hezbollah, but expressed cautious hopes that an end to the monthlong conflict could be nearing.
Eyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to meet Sunday with the foreign minister of Iran — Hezbollah’s top ally — to stress that the region could not bear any more tension and push for the implementation of the U.N. resolution, a state-run Egyptian newspaper reported Saturday.
The meeting comes a day before the cease-fire is to take effect at 8 a.m. Beirut time Monday (1 a.m. EDT).
The Arab League criticized the U.N. Security Council for not labeling Israel as the main aggressor, but said the peace plan was the best option to halt fighting that has claimed nearly 900 lives.
“The resolution is the best that can be achieved in the mean time under the unbalanced international equation,” said Ahmed bin Heli, the league’s assistant secretary-general.
Qatar, the only Arab League member on the 15-nation Security Council, voted in favor of the resolution, which passed unanimously Friday.
Jordan called the cease-fire plan a critical “first step,” and Turkey suggested Saturday that it could send peacekeeping troops.
The plan calls for expanding the U.N. force in Lebanon and adding Lebanese soldiers to patrol a buffer zone between the Israeli military and Hezbollah guerrillas. Lebanon’s Cabinet unanimously voted to accept the plan, and Israel was expected to do the same Sunday.
Israel, however, has said it will not withdraw its troops until a strong peacekeeping mission is in place, while Hezbollah has made clear it won’t stop fighting until the Israelis leave.
“This is the first step to stop the bloodshed — which is an imperative priority,” Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit said after talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. “What’s happening in Lebanon is one of the repercussions of the Palestinian issue. We must revive efforts to resolve this problem.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said his country will look “very favorably” toward sending peacekeepers to Lebanon after a full cease-fire is achieved.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged Israel to acknowledge the international will by calling an immediate end to the attacks and pulling out of Lebanon.
“Israel now should be committed and show total commitment by (announcing) an immediate cease-fire so that the elements of political settlement — which were reached after a big effort and after a heavy price was paid by the families and civilians — can take place,” he said.
He also demanded investigations into “massacres” by Israeli forces during the war.