US fears a long campaign will favour guerrillas

Intense efforts by the United States to halt Israel's pounding of Hizbollah in southern Lebanon reflect a growing fear in Washington that continuation of the offensive will only increase sympathy for the guerrilla movement in the Arab world and set back the faltering peace process even further.

Although he is accompanying President Clinton on his current visit to Japan, the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, is personally directing the diplomatic drive to secure a ceasefire, built on an end to Hizbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel and disarming the guerrillas, in return for a commitment by Israel to withdraw from its "security zone" in southern Lebanon.

In essence, the plan is an enlarged version of an understanding, also brokered by Washington, which ended a similar Israeli onslaught on Hizbollah positions in July 1993. But calls are growing for Israel's Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, to call a halt unilaterally.

Recognising that the offensive is "smart politics" for Mr Peres, before this spring's election, the New York Times yesterday none the less insisted that "having made his point, he needs to bring the offensive to an end". Israel had every right to defend itself from terrorist threats, said the paper, a staunch supporter of the Jewish state. "But continuing the retaliatory raids much longer can only reinforce Hizbollah's message to Lebanese civilians."

France has also pressed for an end to the Israeli attacks, but has had little success. The French Foreign Minister, Herve de Charette, pressed on yesterday with his lone diplomatic mission to restore peace to south Lebanon, despite being given the brush-off by Mr Peres the previous evening.

After what was acknowledged by Mr de Charette to be a failed meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, the usefulness of his visits to Syria and Lebanon, and his telephone calls to Tehran, must be questionable. Diplomatic moves by the US could leave France more visibly sidelined than it was even after the US became involved in Bosnia and brokered the Dayton peace accords.

The French Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, who has just returned from a five-day tour of the French Caribbean, issued a sharp reprimand to Israel, but stressed also the legitimacy of its security concerns. Mr Juppe's careful double emphasis appeared designed to move France closer to the stance of its EU partners over the conflict.

Until Mr Juppe returned from the Caribbean, the French response centred on its unique contacts in the region and the unique contribution it could make to restoring peace.

This has added to an impression of a lack of co- ordination, if not actual fracturing, in the organisation of French foreign policy between the foreign ministry, the prime minister's office and the Elysee, where Jacques Chirac has pressed a more activist stance.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea