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Lebanon: UN says it provides deterrent along 'Blue Line' but parties must cooperate

Lebanon: UN says it provides deterrent along 'Blue Line' but parties must cooperate

Responding to statements by Israel concerning the withdrawal line in Lebanon, the United Nations has clarified that it can provide a deterrent in the area but the parties must themselves stop the situation from worsening.

"Primary responsibility for preventing deterioration of any situation along the Blue Line rests with the parties, who are obligated by the decisions of the Security Council to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL [UN Interim Force in Lebanon]," writes the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, in a letter to the President of the Security Council released today.

Mr. Guéhenno's text came in response to a letter to the Security Council President from Yehuda Lancry, Israel's Permanent Representative to the UN, alleging that UNIFIL had "evacuated their position at the Absiyah checkpoint," thus leaving the area "permeable to acts of terror." Ambassador Lancry calls on the UN to "return and control the Absiyah checkpoint."

In response, Mr. Guéhenno notes that for a time, UNIFIL had temporarily stored containers by a gate on the road leading from Ghajar to the Lebanese village of Abbasiyeh, but the containers were removed on 4 August. He stresses that at no time did these containers constitute a position or a checkpoint, as Israel had asserted. "While the containers were an obstacle to the road to Ghajar, they did not by any means prevent or control all access to the road, nor were they intended to prevent Lebanese access to Lebanese land," he states.

The Under-Secretary-General adds that the UN is continuing to keep a close watch on the situation in the area and will promptly take any necessary further steps with the Lebanese and Israeli authorities to pre-empt possible inflammatory incidents.