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U.S. and Europe Seek End to Latest Conflict in Lebanon

April 15, 1996
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Israel’s continued bombardment of Lebanon and Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on northern Israel have prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity.

While American officials continued to stand behind the Israeli military action against the fundamentalist Hezbollah movement, U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk held consultations with Israeli officials for several hours Monday.

Close contacts were reported Monday between Jerusalem and Washington.

French Prime Minister Herve de Charette arrived in Israel Monday night for talks with Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Ehud Barak in an effort to secure a ceasefire.

Diplomats with the European Union in Brussels reportedly criticized France for acting alone and termed the French effort an empty gesture that could undermine the European bloc’s credibility.

Also in Israel on Monday was British Defense Minister Michael Portillo, who voiced his country’s support for the Israeli actions.

“We understand that Israel has worked tirelessly to achieve peace with her neighbors and with the Palestinians,” he said, adding, “It is the right of every country to have security and to defend herself.”

Jordan’s King Hussein criticized Israel’s military moves, saying that they were a threat to the Middle East peace process. He said he was dispatching Prime Minister Abdul Karim al-Kabariti to Israel to seek an end to the hostilities.

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, speaking in Paris on Monday, called on Israel to immediately end the military operation.

At the United Nations, Lebanese envoy Samir Moubarak called Monday for the Security Council to condemn Israel’s operation in Lebanon.

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, who was taking part Monday in a Security Council debate on Israel’s continued closure of the territories, also criticized the Israeli military operation.

Terming the closure a “siege of the Palestinian territory,” Nasser al-Kidwa condemned the “escalating Israeli aggression against Lebanon.”

Peres said Monday that Israel would consider a diplomatic solution, but that the military operation would stop only after the Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel ceased.

“It’s too early to negotiate,” he told reporters.

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