UN, Asharq Al-Awsat- Western and Arab officials in addition to members of the United Nations have started to formulate broad outlines in order to stop the military operations in Lebanon.
A source at the US State Department hinted at the existence of “a US-Arab initiative”, in which Saudi Arabia is participating.
A US source told Asharq al-Awsat “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred on several occasions to the role that the Arab countries are playing to end the crisis in Lebanon.” Justin Higgins said in his statements, “Rice is working with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to find a solution for the situation in the region but had not specified the kind of work or initiatives that both sides are presenting.” He referred to the secretary of state’s remark “that the United States is seeking to solve the crisis and working with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan in addition to the G8 group and the United Nations while the dialogue with the Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese are continuing to solve the problem.”
Meanwhile, Speakers at a UN Security Council debate on Friday demanded a quick end to the bloodshed in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip as UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland announced a trip to the region to assess a worsening humanitarian crisis.
But UN envoy Vijay Nambiar, whose three-member mediation team just returned from the region, pointed to “serious obstacles to the achievement of a comprehensive ceasefire in the immediate future” in the deadly fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Nambiar said that some form of “cessation of hostilities” as called for by UN chief Kofi Annan Thursday was “essential so that captives are protected, humanitarian access is assured, civilian casualties are dramatically reduced, and the political space is opened to negotiate a full and durable ceasefire.”
Briefing the 15-member Security Council on efforts to end the bloodshed in Lebanon, Israel and the Gaza Strip, he also appealed to Israel to “extend its full cooperation” to ensure humanitarian access to civilians trapped in the Lebanon fighting.
At least 341 people have been killed and more than 500,000 displaced in Lebanon since the start of the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah targets 10 days ago. The worst cross-border fighting in a quarter century has also killed 33 Israelis.