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Condoleezza Rice Remarks to the UNSC

Remarks to the United Nations Security Council

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Explanation of Vote on UNSC Resolution on Israel-Lebanon
New York, New York
August 11, 2006

(As Delivered)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Secretary General, fellow members of the Security Council:

I am pleased to join all of you today to support this important resolution. We have been brought to this day by the good faith and the hard work of many in the international community. I especially want to thank you, Secretary General Annan. I want to thank French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy for his hard work and his government's work, as well as the co-sponsors of this resolution.

But, of course, we owe the fullest gratitude to Prime Minister Siniora of Lebanon and his government and Prime Minister Olmert of Israel and his government. These democratic leaders have served their people courageously through this extremely trying and tumultuous time.

With the passage of this resolution, the international community has helped to open a path to lasting peace between Lebanon and Israel that will end the suffering and the violence of the past month.

The status quo that precipitated this conflict was unstable. Since the conflict began, we have sought an immediate end to the fighting. But we have also insisted that a durable cease-fire requires a decisive change from the status quo that produced this war.

Today's resolution lays the foundation to achieve that goal. For, with this resolution, a new, stronger Lebanon can emerge with the world's help. Now, the hard and urgent work of implementation begins.

Today's resolution accomplishes three important objectives. First, it puts in place a full cessation of hostilities. There is an insistence of an unconditional release of abducted Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah must immediately cease its attacks on Israel -- and Israel must halt its offensive military operations in Lebanon, while reserving the right of any sovereign state to defend itself.

It is my understanding that the Lebanese cabinet will vote on Saturday concerning this resolution and the government of Israel on Sunday. And as the Secretary General has just noted, he will help the parties to establish a timeline for the implementation of this very important cessation of hostilities.

In addition to respecting this resolution's call for a full cessation of hostilities, we believe that all parties should take action to protect civilians, as was called for in the four principles of the 1996 Understanding. We urge the governments of Lebanon and Israel to commit to ending large-scale violence. And Hezbollah now faces a clear choice between war and peace, and the world should help to ensure that their choice is the right one.

Second, this resolution will help the democratic government of Lebanon to expand its sovereign authority, as called for in Resolution 1559. It will do so by creating a new international force that builds on the current UN force in Lebanon – UNIFIL.

Though it will bear the same name, this will not be the same force. It will be an enhanced UNIFIL. As the government of Lebanon has requested, this new force will have an expanded mandate, a greater scope of operations, better equipment, and much larger numbers -- a target of 15,000 soldiers, a seven-fold increase in its current strength.

The Lebanese Armed Forces, together with this new stabilization force, will deploy to the south of the country to protect the Lebanese people and to ensure that no armed groups like Hezbollah can threaten stability. As this deployment occurs, Israel will withdraw behind the Blue Line. Today's resolution makes clear that these are parallel processes. And it also calls for the opening of Lebanese harbors and airports, which we expect will be for verifiably civilian purposes.

With the deployment and withdrawal, a full cease-fire will go into effect. And the Council has said it intends to adopt another resolution with further measures to help that cease-fire become permanent. We look forward to the Secretary General's proposals to fully implement Resolutions 1559 and 1680, including the question of disarmament.

To further strengthen Lebanon's democracy, the international community will also impose a binding embargo on all weapons heading into this country -- into that country without the government's consent. And today, we call upon every state, especially Iran and Syria, to respect the sovereignty of the Lebanese government and the will of international community.

Finally, this resolution clearly lays out the political principles to secure a lasting peace: No foreign forces, no weapons, and no authority in Lebanon other than that of the independent Lebanese government, which must have complete sovereignty over its entire country.

These principles represent a long-standing international consensus that was first expressed in UN Resolution 425, then affirmed in the Taif Accords, and reaffirmed in Resolutions 1559 and 1680. On July 16, the G-8 leaders endorsed the same political conditions in St. Petersburg, and 10 days later, the Lebanon Core Group supported these principles at the Rome Conference.

This resolution also offers a way forward to implement Resolution 1680, which addresses the delineation of the Lebanese border, including the Sheba Farms. We must ensure Israel's security and respect the underlying framework to achieve a comprehensive and just, and lasting peace in the region, in accordance with UN Resolution 424.

Fellow Council members, today in no way marks the end of our common efforts. In many respects, the hard work of diplomacy is only just beginning. In many respects, though it is our hope that this resolution will lead to the cessation of large-scale hostilities, no one can expect an immediate end to all acts of violence. The conditions of a lasting peace must be nurtured over time, with the goodwill of the Lebanese and Israeli governments, and with the sustained commitment of the international community that we have undertaken here.

Our most pressing challenge now is to help the thousands of displaced people within Lebanon to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. The reconstruction of Lebanon will be led by the government of Lebanon, but it will demand the generosity of the entire international community.

For our part, the United States will continue working with the governments of Lebanon and Israel to ease the suffering of the Lebanese people. And let me join the Secretary General in applauding the extraordinary work of humanitarian workers who, at great risk to themselves, and U.N. workers who, at great risk to themselves, have taken up the cause of suffering people during these turbulent times.

The United States has already committed substantial resources to the humanitarian efforts in Lebanon and Israel. And in the critical days and weeks following a cessation of hostilities, we plan to do even more, beginning now by increasing our immediate assistance to Lebanon to $50 million.

The United States will coordinate closely with other major donors, with the international financial institutions, and with all who are committed to Lebanon's future. We will also encourage the active involvement of the private sector in Lebanon's reconstruction. Through our common efforts, we must help the people of Lebanon to emerge from this conflict more prosperous and stronger than ever.

Fellow Council members, the past month has been marked by overwhelming suffering and heartache and loss, both in Lebanon and in Israel. And this resolution is refreshingly clear that this tragedy began six years after Israel withdrew completely from Lebanon, and Hezbollah crossed an international boundary, captured and killed Israeli soldiers, and began firing thousands of rockets into Israeli cities.

Hezbollah and its sponsors have brought devastation upon the people of Lebanon, dragging them into a war that they did not choose, and exploiting them as human shields.

The people of the Middle East have lived for too long at the mercy of extremists. It is time to build a more hopeful future. This resolution shows us the way. It is now the solemn responsibility of the international community to help the people of Lebanon and the people of Israel to transform this tragedy into opportunity -- an opportunity to overcome old patterns of violence, and to build a new foundation for stable, sustainable and comprehensive peace.

We have embarked upon an ambitious course. Yet it is the right course. It is the only realistic and effective course. And we must see it through -- for it is the only way to help the people of Lebanon, the people of Israel and the people of the Middle East secure the lasting peace they both desire and that they deserve.

Thank you very much.

2006/T20-7

Released on August 14, 2006

ENDS


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