Lebanese-Israeli peace threatened by repeated attacks - Ban Ki-moon
10 July 2007 – Lebanon is mired in a debilitating political crisis, facing continuing attacks aimed at undermining its sovereignty and territorial integrity, which makes it harder to fully implement the Security Council resolution ending last year’s war between Israel and Hizbollah, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says.
In his latest report on the implementation of resolution 1701, Mr. Ban says the ongoing instability within Lebanon is limiting progress and posing “a direct challenge… to the stability of the country as a whole.”
He cites the fighting between Fatah al-Islam militants and Lebanese security forces at a Palestinian refugee camp, the worst internal fighting since the civil war ended in 1990; the series of explosions around Beirut, including that which killed a Lebanese parliamentarian and nine others; a bomb attack last month on a UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) convoy that killed six peacekeepers; and the firing of Katyusha rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel.
The Secretary-General stresses that the deadly attack against the UNIFIL convoy or other incidents will not deter the UN from playing its part to implement resolution 1701.
But he emphasizes that greater progress is needed on several key issues – including the enforcement of the arms embargo in Lebanon – if the cessation of hostilities is to become a permanent ceasefire.
“I am disturbed by the persistent reports pointing to breaches of the arms embargo along the Lebanese-Syrian border,” he writes, noting that the report of the Lebanon Independent Border Assessment Team, which he commissioned, concludes that the border is not sufficiently secure and that Lebanese capabilities are lacking.
Existing border crossing points are not well controlled by Lebanese authorities, and the procedures for these crossings are not uniform, resulting in an unregulated flow of passengers, vehicles and cargo, according to the border assessment report.
That report, also released today, recommends a series of measures to “significantly improve” Lebanon’s border security regime, and Mr. Ban urges the country’s Government to implement the report in full.
The recommendations include: the establishment of a dedicated border guard agency; the creation of a multi-agency mobile force focused on arms smuggling, with the power to make arms seizures; and the redesign and restructure of border crossing points to ensure there is greater control of the border.
In the progress report on resolution 1701, Mr. Ban says he remains hopeful that a long-term solution can be found as the region nears the first-year anniversary of the 34-day conflict, which led to the deaths of an estimated 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis, the destruction of much of Lebanon’s infrastructure and severe damage to both nations’ economies.
He stresses that, aside from the enforcement of the Lebanese arms embargo, progress is needed on several fronts, including on the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers and the Lebanese prisoners, the halting of Israeli air violations and the issue of sovereignty over Shab’a Farms.
He also urges the international community to provide support to the Lebanese armed forces to make sure that they can extend and exercise full authority over all of the country’s territory.
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