A More Civil Cease-Fire

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JERUSALEM: Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced a cease-fire in Israeli's deadly conflict with Hizballah. The announcement comes after Christopher conducted an intense week of diplomatic shuttle missions with Peres, Syrian President Hafez Assad and Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Christopher said that the today's agreement goes beyond the 1993 verbal agreement between Hizballah and Israel not to shell civilians on either side of the Lebanese-Israeli border. Under the deal, Hizballah will halt attacks into northern Israel, while Israel will not target civilian areas in Lebanon. A sticking point of negations was resolved when Hizballah agreed to not use civilian and industrial areas as launching points for their attacks. A final provision calls for the U.S., Israel, Syria, Lebanon and France to create a committee to monitor compliance with the deal. The agreement does not protect Israeli soldiers from attacks or require Israel to withdraw its troops from southern Lebanon, but seeks to protect civilians on both sides of the border. Both Peres and Christopher said all parties are ready to move on to comprehensive peace talks. Peres reiterated that Israel has no territorial designs on Lebanon but will not withdraw from the so-called "security zone" until Hizballah is disarmed. Meanwhile, Israeli shelling in southern Lebanon continued, though more sporadically than the past two weeks. The U.N. reported Friday that 24,000 shells fell on Lebanon during the 16-day conflict. The officers said Israel had targeted water and electricity facilities and road networks recently in some 40 overnight bombing sorties mounted by warplanes and helicopter gunships. More than 150 people, mostly Lebanese civilians, have been killed in the fighting.