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Lebanon asks Security Council to impose cease-fire with Israel
Lebanon urged the United Nations Security Council on Friday to quickly impose a cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon, but Israel said it was trying to end a terrorist occupation of its neighbor and insisted the Beirut government secretly backed its actions.
Lebanese Foreign Ministry official Nouhad Mahmoud and Israel's Ambassador Dan Gillerman addressed an emergency session of the 15-nation council as Israel intensified attacks on Hezbollah targets and civilian installations and Hezbollah fighters fired more rockets across the border into Israel.
Hours earlier, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Israel would not end its military operation in Lebanon until the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for disarming Hezbollah and the deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon.
The council afterward issued only a brief statement welcoming Annan's decision to send a team to the region to encourage restraint. Council members said they would not rule out further action next week.
Mahmoud said Israel's action was aimed at "bringing Lebanon to its knees and subverting it by any means."
"I need not explain to you who is the victim and who is the aggressor," he said, asking for a "comprehensive, immediate cease-fire, a lifting of the air and sea blockade imposed upon Lebanon and... an end to Israeli aggression."
Gillerman, however, said Lebanon government had brought the Israeli actions on itself, by allowing Hezbollah to remain armed and keep de-facto control over southern Lebanon, from which it could cross the border to seize two Israel Defense Forces soldiers.
"Lebanon is today occupied by terror," he said. He accused Hezbollah of comprising "an axis of terror" along with the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Syria and Iran, which he said support Hamas and Hezbollah.
He urged Lebanon to free itself from the axis by extending its authority across all its territory.
Many Lebanese shared his view of the crisis, he said.
Addressing Mahmoud, Gillerman said: "You know deep in your heart that if you could, you would be sitting here right next to me right now because you know that we are doing the right thing and that if we succeed, Lebanon would be the beneficiary."
Bolton said Washington was working with the parties to the conflict and other concerned leaders "to help restore calm and achieve a resolution to this crisis."