Israel finally accepts 1978 U.N. resolution on Lebanon withdrawal

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel formally accepted a U.N. Security Council resolution Wednesday that calls for an Israeli troop withdrawal from south Lebanon — a first step toward ending a 20-year occupation that has grown increasingly unpopular at home.
Lebanon rejected Israel’s demand for negotiations on security assurances, making a pullout unlikely any time soon.
“Lebanon will not negotiate with Israel over the withdrawal,” said Lebanese President Elias Hrawi.
The Cabinet decision came a day after U.S. envoy Dennis Ross left the region after failing to make progress toward breaking the deadlock in Israel-Palestinian peace talks. Critics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government maintain that Wednesday’s move was merely a ploy to deflect attention from the failing Palestinian talks.
In the past, Israel has said it would withdraw its troops only after reaching a formal peace agreement with Lebanon.
Israel wants the Lebanese army to deploy in southern Lebanon to prevent attacks by Iran-backed Hezbollah guerrillas on northern Israel. The steadily mounting death toll — 900 Israeli soldiers have died in combat in Lebanon since Israel first invaded in 1978 — has led to growing public pressure on Israel to bring its soldiers home.
Netanyahu said the Cabinet had not talked about how the withdrawal would be carried out. “It is not something that happens immediately,” he said. ” It is a proces.”