Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the Israeli Government’s decision to withdraw its army from the northern part of Ghajar, a village that straddles the so-called Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson yesterday, Mr. Ban said the withdrawal of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from northern Ghajar would be “an important step” towards the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701.
Resolution 1701 brought to an end the conflict that took place between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah four years ago. It also calls for respect for the Blue Line, the disarming of all militias operating in Lebanon and an end to arms smuggling in the area.
“The United Nations intends to continue to work closely with all parties in the coming period in a process to resolve the permanent status of Ghajar,” the statement added.
Mr. Ban commended all sides for their continued commitment to resolution 1701 and stressed his determination and commitment to advance its full implementation.
UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said that he and Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), will make a visit to Israel early next week to further discuss the decision on Ghajar.
Speaking to reporters in New York after a closed-door meeting with the Security Council, Mr. Williams stressed that Israel and Lebanon have obligations to meet under resolution 1701.
“I welcomed again today the expressions of continued commitment to the resolution. But I also warned that progress made so far could be undermined if the parties do not couple their reassertions of support with further concrete steps,” he stated.