Lebanon and Israel have voiced interest in accelerating the process of marking the so-called Blue Line separating the two countries, the military head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the region reported today.
Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), held a tripartite meeting tonight with senior Israeli and Lebanese military representatives at the UN position at the Ras Al Naqoura crossing.
The tripartite meeting was held as part of efforts to ensure that the Blue Line, as identified by the UN in 2000, is fully respected in its entirety.
An exchange of fire between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on 3 August reportedly led to the deaths of at least four people. The incident was triggered by Israel’s announcement of its intention to cut down a tree in the proximity of the Blue Line. UNIFIL said in a statement that the tree is located south of the line on the Israeli side.
Major-General Asarta described tonight’s meeting as constructive.
“The process of visibly marking the Blue Line on the ground is an important endeavour which would reduce tension and the possibility of inadvertent violations,” he said. “The parties have expressed to me their strong interest in speeding up this process.
“I believe that the deliberations will have a positive impact on the speed and accuracy of the technical work UNIFIL is doing with the parties on the ground to visibly mark the Blue Line.”
The Force Commander added that he had received assurances from both sides that they wanted to continue working closely with UNIFIL to maintain calm in the area.
“No one is interested in an escalation. All parties must strive to maintain the cessation of hostilities.”