By Marilyn Henry
NEW YORK (June 28) - Without mentioning UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan by name, Israeli diplomatic sources yesterday vehemently rejected his implication that the IDF may not share Prime Minister Ehud Barak's commitment to a full withdrawal from Lebanon.
Israel also took strong exception to Annan's report of Israeli violations along the Lebanese border, which appeared to be one-sided.
Although Israel had been aware that Annan would be briefing the Security Council on Monday about his seven-nation trip to the Middle East, the nature of his statements caught the Israelis by surprise. They were informed after the meeting by a member of the council. Annan spoke to the council from Geneva in a video conference.
According to various accounts of that meeting, Annan said Barak was serious in attempting to solve the problems remaining since the withdrawal. But Annan was reportedly not sure all lower-ranking army personnel shared Barak's convictions, and recommended that a senior Israeli officer be assigned to "the blue line" to ensure that the army followed orders.
One Israeli diplomatic source said he "vehemently rejects the distinction now emanating from some circles in the UN that seek to differentiate between the Israeli army and the political leadership of Israel."
He said that Israel is a democracy, and that the IDF "operates in full accordance with and accountability to the elected government."
The sources also emphasized that UN Security Council Resolution 425 calls not only for the withdrawal of Israeli forces but also for restoration of international peace and security, and the return of the effective authority of the government of Lebanon to the area.
"The UN should take all three provisions of the resolution into account, rather than just one of them," a source said in a reference to the council apparently overlooking Lebanese violations, including threats emanating from Lebanon, and Lebanon's refusals to deploy its army in south Lebanon, disarm Hizbullah, and quell disturbances at the border.
Despite the Israeli irritation, this was not seen as a confrontation between Israel and the UN.
The Israeli withdrawal was verified by Annan in a June 16 report to the Security Council. The council subsequently endorsed that report, after objections from Lebanon led to marathon negotiations on the eve of Annan's arrival in the region.
© Jerusalem Post 2000