The latest draft of the tribunal plan has not been made public, but it is thought that the tribunal will sit outside Lebanon, possibly in Cyprus. The tribunal's statutes will rely on a mixture of Lebanese and international law, and Lebanese and international judges will sit on the tribunal.
It is believed that the death sentence will not apply in the case of guilty verdicts. "Here we are today on the road to revealing the truth and achieving justice through the court with an international character," Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora said as he announced the unanimous decision of his remaining 18 cabinet ministers. President Emile Lahoud, a pro-Syrian, said on Sunday that as a result of the resignations, the government had lost its legitimacy - but constitutional experts have disputed his interpretation of the situation.
The cabinet, normally made up Christian and Muslim ministers in equal numbers, has retained the two-thirds of its members necessary to make up a quorum. Mr Siniora has not accepted the resignations, but the ministers insist they will stand by their decisions. Correspondents say the fact that Mr Sarraf is a Christian, strengthens the Shias' bid for a larger presence in cabinet, and reduces the sectarian nature of the dispute. Hezbollah, which has portrayed its 34-day conflict with Israel in the summer as a victory, is seeking a one-third-plus-one share of cabinet portfolios for itself and its allies, giving them an effective veto power on government decisions.
Another two ministers would need to resign for the current government to fall. Leaders of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority said the resignations revealed a "hidden plot" by Syria and Iran to stop the establishment of the Hariri tribunal and foil UN resolution 1701, which halted the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel in August.