Lebanese Baptists questioned a proposed U.N. resolution drafted by the United States and France seeking a truce in fighting between Israel and Hezbollah that has lasted more than three weeks.
Nearly 1,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, and more than 3,300 have been wounded, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star. Israel’s Haaretz reported 36 Israelis have been killed.
The White House said the U.N. Security Council could vote on the resolution as early as Monday afternoon. The Bush administration had opposed a ceasefire until recent days.
The proposed resolution calls for “immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.”
It expresses “strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders.”
Two Lebanese Baptist leaders expressed doubts about the resolution. A Lebanese seminary head questioned the international community’s commitment to peace.
“The proposed resolution has failed to put a clear plan for the Israeli immediate withdrawal from the territories that it occupied during the past weeks,” said Naji Daoud, Beirut director of SAT-7, a Christian satellite-TV network that broadcasts in North Africa and the Middle East.
The network closed its offices on Friday due to Israeli air strikes.
Daoud told EthicsDaily.com on Sunday that the resolution has good points, including the immediate ceasefire. But he expressed concern about the resolution’s support for disarming of Hezbollah. “This point is critical, as it raises concerns about the rise of a new civil war in Lebanon,” he said.
A member of Faith Baptist Church, Daoud said for a ceasefire to work Israel needs to pull out immediately from southern Lebanon and the Lebanese army with the support of the United Nations needs to move into the currently occupied areas.
“A ceasefire may need a miracle,” he said.
“We want to live in peace, and our neighbors to live in peace,” added Lebanese Baptist leader Nabil Costa. “However the process to reach this peace needs a miracle, and we believe in Him. He is the God of miracles.”
Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development, said the proposed peace resolution is “not the best” and “a recipe for further escalation in the near future.”
But with the growing humanitarian crisis and rising death toll, Costa said that the U.N. proposal could provide “a short break” in the fighting.
“Any grace period is a plus and [an] answer to prayer,” he said.
A ceasefire would help Baptists care for refugees, allow refugees to “check on their properties” and provide an opportunity for Lebanon to import much needed fuel, Costa said.
“Negotiations during a ceasefire will definitely lead to better outcome for all parties,” he told EthicsDaily.com
Costa said the Beirut Baptist School water well is dry and that the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary well also isn’t working.
He said the seminary doesn’t dare dig a new well because it might look like “military equipment” to airplanes. Israel has repeatedly struck civilian targets, claiming that they were confused with military targets.
“Arabs are asking for complete Israeli withdrawal along with the cease fire,” Costa said. “Israeli forces will not accept any withdrawal as they want to see the final agreement before moving one step backwards. Also Israel wants Lebanese forces to be positioned on their southern border as a buffer zone between them and Hezbollah. Lebanese will not accept [this], as they want the army reallocation to be a part of a full peace package.”
Elie Haddad, ABTS’ provost, said Sunday, “I cannot even start to comprehend how the international community has not been able to call for a ceasefire yet after 25 days of systematic destruction of our country.”
He said the country is down to a week’s fuel supply. “After that, everything will close down, including hospitals, and we will not be able to feed the displaced communities that sought refuge in our areas,” Haddad said. “A catastrophe of a mega scale is waiting to happen, and the governments are not able ”or willing ”to act.”
In an e-mail to Baptist leaders, Haddad said: “You can definitely help by putting pressure on the White House to act swiftly. Your governments have the power to bring this insanity to an end.”
Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.