Israel welcomes renewal of UN force in Lebanon

The text of the UN resolution on renewing for a year the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had been the subject of intense negotiations among permanent members of the Security Council.

Israel welcomes renewal of UN force in Lebanon

World Bulletin / News Desk

Israel on Friday welcomed the renewal of the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in neighbouring Lebanon amid US pressure for the blue berets to take action against Hezbollah militants.

Washington favoured strengthening UNIFIL's mandate, while France and Italy opposed it.

On Wednesday, the council unanimously backed a French-drafted resolution on UNIFIL, which is tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel.

France argued that UNIFIL had succeeded in maintaining calm in south Lebanon but the United States pushed for action by the mission against Hezbollah militants it accuses of stockpiling weapons and readying for war.

The resolution highlights that UNIFIL has the authority to "take all necessary actions" in areas where its forces are deployed and must ensure that its area of operations is "not utilised for hostile activities of any kind".

It also requests that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres look at ways to increase UNIFIL's visible presence, through patrols and inspections, but within its existing mandate.

In a statement on Friday, Israel's foreign ministry said "the importance of the resolution was in its call for UNIFIL to act in a meaningful and targeted manner to prevent Hezbollah from strengthening its military arsenal in southern Lebanon".

"The resolution reflects the recognition by the Security Council that a change is necessary and that UNIFIL must receive the necessary tools and support to fully implement its mandate," the statement said.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP the Jewish state was satisfied because "following diplomatic contacts... we believe that the mandate will be applied more actively and vigorously".

Israel and its US ally believe that the Lebanese Shiite militia is amassing weapons on Lebanon's southern border with Israel in preparation for a new war against Israel after the deadly conflict of summer 2006.

Set up in 1978, UNIFIL was beefed up after the 2006 war, tasked with guaranteeing a ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal from a demilitarised zone on the border.

UNIFIL now has 10,500 troops on the ground monitoring the ceasefire and helping the Lebanese government secure its borders.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Eylül 2017, 14:46