Cablegate: Lebanon: Bulgaria Condemns Qana Attack, Calls For

DE RUEHSF #1068 2131444
P 011444Z AUG 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 124950

1. SUMMARY/COMMENT: The Bulgarian government has closely
coordinated its position with that of the EU from the outset
of the Israel/Hezbollah conflict. On July 13, the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs issued a statement calling for maximum
restraint from all parties, condemning the kidnapping of
Israeli soldiers, calling for Hezbollah to release the
soldiers and cease rocket fire into Israel, and for Lebanon
to establish control over its territory. The MFA also
condemned Israel's bombing of Lebanon, and called on the
former to restrain their actions and not violate the borders.
However, the MFA released another statement on July 31,
strongly condemning Israel's recent air raids in Qana and the
deaths of civilians, including many children, and calling for
a cease-fire. The recent statement also calls for an
international force to assist the Lebanese Army in
establishing control in the South. This differs in tone from
their original statement on July 13, which castigates both
sides - but lays the blame on Hezbollah for initiating
things. Ambassador Beyrle is meeting August 3 with
Parliament's leadership to brief them using reftel guidance.

2. Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivailo Kalfin, expressly
stated in an interview on July 31 that while Israel had the
right to defend itself, its reaction has been extremely
disproportional. Kalfin says that there should be a
cease-fire as soon as possible, which he pointedly notes,
differs from the U.S. policy of giving Israel more time to
deal with Hezbollah. Bulgarian public opinion also seems to
be shifting away from Israel, which is perceived as causing
the death of innocent civilians, many of whom are children.
The Israeli air raids, especially the recent Qana attack
sparked at least one rally in Sofia, where hundreds protested
Israel's actions. In addition, the front pages of almost all
newspapers ran heartrending pictures of Lebanese rescuers
pulling dead bodies of children out of the debris in the
village of Qana.

3. Statement issued July 31: Declaraton of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs on the sitution in Lebanon

The Republic of Bulgaria expreses serious concern over the
continuing escalatio in violence between Israel and
Hezbollah over te last few days.

We strongly condemn Israeli ai raids on the Lebanese town of
Qana on 30 July 206, killing dozens of civilians, most of
whom wer children. We express our most sincere condolence
on the inexcusable death of innocent people. Te unbalanced
use of power, which has grave conseuences for the civilians
in Lebanon, only worsensthe crisis that cannot be solved by

Vocing satisfaction with Israel's decision to suspen air
strikes for 48 hours, we reconfirm our stan that only a
total cease-fire can crate conditions for further
negotiations between the concerted countries, ensure
application of UN resolutions and an agreement on deployment
of international forces, which will assist the Lebanese armed
forces in establishing full control over South Lebanon.

4. MFA statement issued July 13:

The Republic of Bulgaria expresses deep concern over the
escalation of tension and the deterioration of the security
situation in the region of the Middle East recently. Without
doubt, violence cannot bring an acceptable solution to any
side. In connection with that, we appeal to all the
countries concerned to display maximum restraint and not to
resort to the use of force and other measures which are
contrary to international law standards.

We condemn sharply the kidnapping of the two Israeli
soldiers. We consider that the Shiite Lebanese organization
Hezbollah needs to release them immediately and to cease the
rocket fire to Israel's territory. The Lebanese government
also needs to undertake all necessary measures in order to
establish control over its territory and to prevent further
attacks against Israel.

We condemn sharply Israeli Army bombardments of Lebanon which
lead to the killing of tens of innocent Lebanese citizens.
Israel needs to refrain from such actions and to not violate
the borders of the Lebanese state.

We appeal to Israel and Lebanon to respect the border between
the two countries, determined by the UN after the withdrawal
of Israeli forces from South Lebanon in 2000.

© Scoop Media

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