Libano: l' UE dichiara ufficialmente che Israele ha mal interpretato le dichiarazione del summit di Roma
EU official: Israel misinterpreted our declaration at Rome summit
Israel has drawn the wrong conclusions from statements made at the summit held in Rome this week on the Middle East crisis, a European Union official said Thursday.
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tumioja, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said the Israeli government's interpretation of the summit's declaration as permission to continue its offensive is "their own and wrong interpretation."
The summit's final statement called for a United Nations force to be deployed in southern Lebanon to aid the country in implementing UN decisions on disarming Hezbollah. The statement also called for increased humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
China demanded Thursday morning that Israel apologize for the death of a Chinese UN observer in southern Lebanon on Tuesday. Three other observers - an Austrian, a Canadian, and a Finn - died in the air strike.
"We are completely shocked by the incident and strongly condemn it," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said that Yehuda Haim, Israel's ambassador to Beijing, was summoned to the foreign ministry office Wednesday and asked to apologize both to China and to the victim's family.
An Israeli embassy official said the ambassador expressed his "profound regret" at the incident and promised it would be investigated.
"Israel does not target UN observers," the official said. "Many things can happen in this kind of situation, some of them sad," he added.
UN Council expresses 'shock' over IAF attack on UN post
The UN Security Council adopted a statement on Thursday expressing shock and distress at Israel's bombing of a UN outpost in Lebanon that killed four unarmed UN peacekeepers.
The policy statement, which carries less weight than a resolution, was weaker than one proposed by China and other nations, after more than a day of negotiations and objections from the United States, which wanted to make sure Israel was not directly blamed for the attack.
China, expressing frustration at the delay, earlier warned the United States that its opposition to the statement could could jeopardize UN negotiations on a resolution ordering Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment. One of the peacekeepers killed on Tuesday was Chinese. The other three came from Austria, Canada and Finland.
The final draft adopted by the 15-member council eliminated wording "condemning any deliberate attack against UN personnel" as well as a call for a joint Israeli-UN investigation, which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had asked for.
Instead, it called on Israel "to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into this incident, taking into account any relevant material from United Nations authorities."
It said the Security Council "is deeply shocked an distressed by the firing by the Israel Defense Forces on a United Nations Observer post in southern Lebanon on 25 July, 2006, which caused the death of four U.N. military observers."
Israel has apologized and called the incident a mistake.
UN officials said they asked Israel a dozen times to stop bombing near the post in the hours before it was destroyed.
Jane Lute, an American and an assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, briefed the Security Council that the outpost came under Israeli fire 21 times, including four direct hits.
After the statement was adopted, China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said he was relieved action was taken even if the final draft was watered-down. He had previous said he was frustrated by the U.S. position.
U.S. working on own plan for Lebanon after Rome summit fails
The United States, which fiercely opposed the calls for an immediate cease-fire during the Rome conference Wednesday, has been working on its own proposal for solving the conflict in Lebanon.
Its initiative calls for Israel's withdrawal from the Shaba Farms and a deployment of NATO forces to guarantee Hezbollah's disarmament.
Israel launched a massive attack on Hezbollah in southern Lebanon following a July 12 cross-border incursion by the militant organization in which two Israeli troops were abducted and eight others killed.
Meanwhile, U.S. envoys to the Middle East David Welsh and Elliott Abrams are due to arrive in Israel on Thursday for further talks on finding a resolution to the ongoing fighting.
They were also set to formulate an agreement for stationing an international force in southern Lebanon and a new United Nations resolution that would determine the force's mandate.
Welsh and Abrams both participated in the Rome summit, along with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat quoted Lebanese sources Wednesday as saying that Rice presented this proposal to officials in Beirut earlier this week.
While the U.S. initiative calls for transferring control of Shaba Farms to Lebanon, it stipulates that the permanent international border will not be determined if Syria continues to refuse to agree on the boundaries of this area. The UN is to be in charge of handing Shaba Farms over to Lebanon.
Beirut claims that the international border in this area would extend Lebanon's territory a few dozen kilometers into the Golan Heights. Syria has been keeping mum on its territorial demands in this area.
The American proposal also calls for a 20-kilometer-wide strip of southern Lebanon, starting at the Israeli border, which would be declared a no-go zone for Hezbollah.
An international force headed by NATO commanders, with authority to use both deterrent and offensive force, would be deployed in this strip to monitor and stabilize the situation.
Ninety days after being deployed, this force would become a part of the UN-sponsored force, with the option of incorporating the UNIFIL troops currently serving in southern Lebanon.
The delegation set to arrive in Israel on Thursday also includes the EU troika members - Finland's Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, European Commissioner for external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the EU envoy to the Middle East, Mark Otte.
They will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The Rome summit on the situation in Lebanon ended with no clear results Wednesday, after the U.S. shot down a joint European-Arab demand for an immediate cease-fire.
The 18 participants, including the U.S., Russia and European and Arab states, issued a joint statement expressing their "determination to work immediately to reach with the utmost urgency a cease-fire that puts an end to the current violence and hostilities."
The statement, which was being hashed out until the last minute, also called for an international force to be deployed in South Lebanon under a UN mandate in order to help the Beirut government implement Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for disarming Hezbollah and deploying the Lebanese army in the south. The statement also called for humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
One of the international force's most difficult assignments will be to ensure that the Lebanese army controls all the weapons in the country. This would involve making the international force responsible for disarming Hezbollah and the Palestinian militias operating in Lebanon. The force would also monitor the Lebanese-Syrian border, an Israeli demand whose aim is to prevent Syria from continuing to supply Hezbollah with weapons.
According to Lebanese sources, Rice added Israel's withdrawal from Shaba Farms to the initiative under pressure from Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. However, neither Rice nor Lebanese leaders made statements to the media following her visit Monday, the atmosphere of which was described as "tense."
Syria, meanwhile, Wednesday reiterated its willingness to contribute to an arrangement in Lebanon. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica: "We are ready to intervene and take a positive role. We ask the U.S. to pressure Israel to agree to a cease-fire and prisoner release."