New UN report cites lack of progress by Israel and Lebanon on key obligations
While Israel and Lebanon have enjoyed the longest period of stability in their recent history, not enough progress has been made on key obligations under the Security Council resolution that ended the hostilities of 2006, according to a new United Nations report released today.
In addition to bringing to a close the conflict that took place between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah four years ago, resolution 1701 also calls for respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, the disarming of all militias operating in Lebanon and an end to arms smuggling in the area.
“Although the parties remained committed to the full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), a number of violations occurred and no progress was recorded with regard to key obligations under the resolution,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in his latest report on the issue.
He voices concern about ongoing air violations committed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) through almost daily overflights of Lebanese territory, as well as ground violations of the Blue Line that have occurred in recent months.
“The inherent risk of escalating the security situation that these incidents carry cannot be overstated,” he warns.
In addition, he stresses that Israel must withdraw its forces from the northern part of the village of Ghajar and an adjacent area north of the Blue Line, in accordance with the resolution, and urges the Israeli Government to expedite the withdrawal of the IDF from the area without further delay.
He adds that amid allegations of continued arms transfers to Hizbollah, in violation of the resolution, “a perceptible increase in tension between the parties was recorded during the reporting period,” which covers developments since his February report.
“That raised the spectre of a miscalculation by either party leading to a resumption of hostilities, with potentially devastating consequences for Lebanon and the region,” he says.
This tension, he writes, once again illustrates the importance of control by Lebanon over its borders and of respect by all Member States for the prohibition against the transfer of arms and related materiel to entities or individuals in Lebanon without the consent of the Lebanese State, which are key elements of resolution 1701.
The report notes that the UN regularly receives reports and specific allegations that Hizbollah maintains “a vast arsenal and a significant military capacity,” but it does not have the means to verify this information independently.
The presence of armed groups in Lebanon operating beyond the control of the State is also a concern, Mr. Ban says, as they challenge the ability of the State to exercise its full sovereignty and control over its territory.
“I continue to believe that the disarmament of armed groups should be carried out through a Lebanese-led political process that would result in bringing all arms under the control of the State.”
The Secretary-General stresses that it is the responsibility of the parties to focus on all outstanding issues so that they can reach a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution, as envisaged in resolution 1701.
“At the moment, they are not doing enough in this regard,” he writes.
Noting that the partnership between the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) is critical to the implementation of the resolution, Mr. Ban calls for increased support for the LAF.
He also calls for ensuring the full freedom of movement for UNIFIL within its area of operations, while voicing concern about recent incidents impeding the work of the Force.