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August 12, 2020 3:08 pm

Report: US Considering Veto of Mandate Extension for UN Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon Over Hezbollah Concerns

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

UNIFIL peacekeepers patrol the border with Israel near the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, Dec. 4, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Aziz Taher.

US President Donald Trump’s administration is threatening to veto the extension of the mandate of the UN’s 42-year-old peacekeeping force in Lebanon, a US-based website claimed on Wednesday.

Quoting unnamed American, Israeli and French diplomats, the website Axios reported that the US would veto further funding for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) unless its mandate was changed.

Measures demanded by the US government were said to include a reduction of UNIFIL’s maximum troop presence from 15,000 to 11,000; lessening the mandate’s extension period from one year to six months to allow for more modifications as the situation on the ground changes; and immediately implementing recommendations from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called for more peacekeepers to be moved to the Israel-Lebanon border area and for the force’s weapons, technology and vehicles to be upgraded.

With Lebanon once more in the international spotlight following the devastating explosion last week in Beirut’s port area, US and Israeli diplomats had increasingly “cited the discoveries of Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels into Israel, the cutting of a border fence, limitations on the access and movement of UN peacekeepers by Hezbollah, and a recent attempted attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli outpost,” Axios said.

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The website quoted one Israeli official as commenting: “Both us and the Americans stress that in the current reality Hezbollah is just too comfortable with UNIFIL, and this is unacceptable.”

A UN Security Council vote on extending UNIFIL’s mandate is scheduled for Aug. 31.

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