‘Hezbollah Has Been Making a Mockery of Security Council Resolutions’: UN Renews Lebanon Peacekeeping Mandate
The UN Security Council on Thursday voted to renew the peacekeeping force in south Lebanon amid tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border that Israel’s UN ambassador has previously described as a “powder keg.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan in a statement to The Algemeiner said he welcomed the resolution but warned of the unresolved danger along Israel’s northern front.
“I will continue to demand that the Security Council condemn Hezbollah and demand that the Lebanese government act against its military buildup, which could lead to a serious escalation in the region,” he said.
The Security Council had initially delayed voting on the resolution in a dispute over whether the peacekeepers would be required to coordinate their movements with the Lebanese government, or whether the UN troops would continue to be allowed to have unannounced patrols.
In welcoming Thursday’s vote, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the freedom of movement for UN peacekeepers has become critical to security in south Lebanon, as Hezbollah and “Green Without Borders,” a supposed environmental group that has been sanctioned by the United States as a Hezbollah affiliate, have increasingly impeded access to.
“We know UNIFIL has been unable to access a range of troubling sites across the Blue Line, including illegal firing ranges, Green Without Borders sites, rocket launch sites, and tunnel sites,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “It is clear the main purpose of these sites is to facilitate Hezbollah’s operations in southern Lebanon along the Blue Line.”
While the Security Council was able to find compromise language to maintain unannounced patrols for the peacekeepers, who are formally known as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh criticized the resolution for not going far enough to explicitly condemn Hezbollah.
“Hezbollah has been making a mockery of Security Council resolutions 1701 and 1559,” she said. “It has erected concrete military outposts and observation towers, conducted military drills with live fire and prevented UNIFIL’s freedom of movement while brazenly attacking peacekeeping forces. It has also actively perpetuated Lebanon’s myriad crises, obstructed the investigation into the devastating Beirut port explosion and paralyzed key institutions of the state.”
For its part, a Hezbollah spokesperson told Lebanese outlet L’Orient Today that the failure to maintain the clause requiring UNIFIL to coordinate its movements with the Lebanese government reflected “the failure of the Lebanese diplomacy that should have prepared early on to face this resolution.”
“This also shows that the world did not listen to Lebanon’s needs. When the US and Israel want something from the security council, they get it simply because there is a hegemony over the security council,” the Hezbollah spokesperson said.
Thursday’s resolution ultimately passed 13-0, with abstentions from Russia and China who said that the freedom of movement clauses did not sufficiently respect Lebanese sovereignty.
The American Jewish Committee in a statement welcoming the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate said that it would press leaders at the UN General Assembly next month to take additional steps to counter Hezbollah and its state sponsor Iran.
“The Israeli Air Force’s flights over Lebanon are necessitated by Hezbollah’s pledge to destroy Israel, the Lebanese government’s failure to rein in this terrorist organization, and the Iranian regime’s continuing efforts to provide it with more sophisticated weapons,” AJC said. “Hezbollah, which is operating from Lebanese territory, must comply, too. The Security Council must send a clear message that violations of its resolutions will not be tolerated.”