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UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution to halt Middle East hostilities

[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] late Friday unanimously approved [recorded video] a resolution [text] to end the current Middle East conflict [JURIST news archive], calling for Hezbollah to stop all attacks immediately and for Israel to cease “all offensive military operations.” The resolution additionally authorized the deployment of an expanded UNIFIL [official website] peacekeeping force of up to 15,000 troops mandated to monitor the ceasefire and ensure humanitarian access to the region while welcoming the deployment of 15,000 of Lebanon's own soldiers. The text also called for a "long-term solution to the conflict", the "unconditional release" of two kidnapped Israeli soldiers whose capture led to the current conflict in July, and - according to a UN summary - "full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, as well as resolutions 1559 and 1680, that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon."

Negotiations for a resolution resumed this week after an initial draft resolution [JURIST document; JURIST op-ed] sponsored by France and the US was rejected. Earlier Friday, British UN Ambassador Emyr Jones-Parry indicated [AP report] that the new peacekeeping force would be deployed under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter [text]. Israel initially called for the peacekeeping force to be mandated under the stronger Chapter 7 [text], but Lebanon rejected that. A draft of the resolution was shown to the Israeli and Lebanese governments before the Security Council vote Friday evening, and Israeli officials said that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will recommend that the ceasefire agreement be approved [AP report] by Israel.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the resolution [address text] as providing the basis of a "sustainable and lasting ceasefire agreement," but expressed "profound disappointment" at how long it had taken the Council to act, saying that "its inability to act sooner has badly shaken the world’s faith in its authority and integrity." UN News Center has more, with coverage of SG Annan's comments here.

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