UNITED NATIONS, AP -The United States and France agreed Saturday on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah but would allow Israel to defend itself if attacked, officials said.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton and French President Jacques Chirac’s office confirmed that agreement had been reached.
Officials with knowledge of the document said the draft calls for a “full cessation” of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, but would allow Israel the right to launch strikes if attacked by Hezbollah.
But it does not call for an “immediate cessation of violence,” those officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft had not yet been made public.
That appeared to be a victory for the U.S. and Israel. France and many other nations had demanded an immediate halt to violence without conditions as a way to push the region back toward stability.
The French presidential palace in Paris said a deal was reached on a resolution that seeks a total halt to hostilities and would work toward a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution.
The full 15-nation Security Council was to meet later Saturday to discuss the resolution, and it was likely to be adopted in the next couple of days, Bolton said.
Bolton said the resolution would be the first of two. The second could spell out a larger political framework for peace between Israel and Hezbollah or set the conditions for a peacekeeping force to deploy to Lebanon.
“We’re prepared to continue to work tomorrow in order to make progress on the adoption of the resolution but we have reached agreement and we’re now ready to proceed,” Bolton said. “We’re prepared to move as quickly as other members of the council want to move.”
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was at President George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, but will head back for a vote.
“She will be prepared to go to New York,” U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
Since fighting began, the U.N. Security Council has failed to take any action to stop it, primarily because of opposition from the United States, Israel’s closest ally.
Any deal will have to gain the acceptance of both Israel and Hezbollah, which could prove difficult.
Israel has said it will not halt its campaign against Hezbollah unless an international stabilization force is in place. Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s chief spokesman said Thursday the militia will not agree to a cease-fire until all Israeli troops leave Lebanon.
Israel also says it wants to continue fighting for up to two weeks to seriously diminish Hezbollah’s military capability.
A current U.N. force already in Lebanon could initially monitor implementation of the resolution, but a more robust international force would be deployed to support Lebanese forces in providing security and implementing a permanent cease-fire.