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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Lebanon threatens to try to break Israeli blockade, UN: Lebanon must prevent weapons from reaching Hezbullah

The government of Lebanon is threatening to try to break the Israeli blockade air and sea blockade that remains in place in what Lebanon claims is a violation of the cease fire hudna. The blockade originally included land routes, but Lebanon's land routes to Syria have been re-opened.

Al-AP is reporting that a Lebanese cabinet minister who is a member of Hezbullah said today that the government is considering asking planes and ships to attempt to reach Lebanon without prior clearance from Israel. As of now, Israel is only allowing flights to and from the Jordanian capital of Amman. Israel has a treaty with Jordan.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh also called on Tuesday for the United Nations to act "decisively" against Israeli violations of the cease-fire agreement.

"The continuation of offensive operations on Lebanese territory and its continued air and naval blockade on Lebanon are a flagrant and unacceptable violation" of the UN Security Council resolution," Salloukh told reporters after a meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot.

"Israel is challenging the will of the international community and the Security Council. These are actions that go against Lebanon's wishes and that of the international community for a peaceful and secure implementation of the resolution. It has become clear who wants peace and stability and who wants to resume hostilities," he said.

Salloukh said the Netherlands, which has ruled out providing troops to a UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, will donate US$8.7 million (€6.8 million) to help Lebanon rebuild.

After Monday's Cabinet meeting, Information Minister Ghazi Aridi stressed Lebanon's determination to stand up for its rights. "Israel is attempting to be a guardian of Lebanon ... . The Lebanese government rejects that."

Lebanon's demands for an end to the blockade has found support.

During the first visit by a head of state to Lebanon since fighting began, Qatari ruler Sheik Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani urged Israel to lift its blockade in line with the requirements of the cease-fire resolution, disclosing that even his flight had to be cleared by Israel before landing in Beirut.

Sheik Hamad, whose moderate government has contacts with Israel but no diplomatic relations, rejected the Israeli contention that the blockade was designed to prevent Hizbullah from rearming, saying Lebanon has the same rights to self-defense as Israel.

"We are for any country defending its territory and establishing its own state," he said.

France also has called on Israel to lift its siege.

UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, during a weekend visit to Beirut, said the Israeli blockade was "totally unhelpful" to the Lebanese economy, but added the Lebanese government must control its borders to prevent weapons from reaching Hizbullah.
I think Larsen's final comment is a Flying Pigs Moment, but Blogger isn't loading pictures at the moment and I cannot wait for them....


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