The head of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon today chaired a meeting with senior officials from the Lebanese and Israeli militaries as part of ongoing UN-sponsored efforts to reduce tensions and boost security along the countries’ border area.
The Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Paola Serra, held talks with representatives of both the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at the UN Position at the Ras Al Naqoura crossing, according to a UNIFIL press statement released today.
The discussions covered issues relevant to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, placing particular focus on the situation along the Line of Withdrawal – the so-called Blue Line – that separates Lebanon and Israel, the ongoing visible marking of the Blue Line, and past violations, as well as the withdrawal by the occupying Israeli forces from northern part of the village of Ghajar, which straddles the Blue Line.
“Both parties expressed their full support and commitment to work together with UNIFIL for the implementation of the relevant provisions of resolution 1701, to maintain calm in the area and to prevent incidents and tension along the Blue Line,” Major-General Serra stated.
“In this context they have also expressed interest in speeding up the marking of the Blue Line,” he added, noting that the meeting itself had been “constructive.”
The Force Commander also expressed satisfaction that the overall situation in the area of UNIFIL’s mandate was quiet and stable, with all parties reiterating their commitment to the cessation of hostilities.
UNIFIL was originally created by the Security Council in March 1978 to confirm Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in re-establishing effective authority in the area. The mandate had to be adjusted twice due to developments in 1982 and 2000.
Following the 2006 conflict between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah, the Council adopted resolution 1701, which enhanced UNIFIL, and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other matters, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilians and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.