VIRGINIA: The U.N. Security Council Wednesday held a session devoted to the situation in Lebanon for the second time in as many weeks amid increasing U.S. and Israeli efforts to alter the U.N. peacekeeping force’s mission in Lebanon.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary Di Carlo, who last visited Beirut in October 2019, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Lebanon and presented a report on the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559. UNSCR 1559, passed in 2004, called for all foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon and called for the disbandment and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.
On Wednesday, the members of the Security Council reaffirmed their “strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon, in accordance with relevant UNSC resolutions, and that the preservation of Lebanon’s stability is essential to regional stability and security.”
A statement on the meeting from the French Mission to the U.N. said that the Council “underscored their previous calls on all Lebanese parties to recommit to Lebanon’s policy of dissociation and to cease any involvement in any external conflict, consistent with their commitment in the Baabda declaration,” in an apparent reference to Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian war.
The Security Council encouraged the international community to continue support the Lebanese Army and highlighted the need for no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than the Lebanese state. But the member states Wednesday “recalled” that violations of Lebanese sovereignty, by air and land, should immediately stop. Israel violates Lebanese airspace and territorial waters on a daily basis.
Last week, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis and Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed the Security Council members during talks regarding UNSCR 1701, which put an end to the July 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. Although the Council praised the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for its cooperation with the Lebanese Army as well as the its efforts to maintain calm along the U.N.-demarcated Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, Washington and Tel Aviv questioned the work of the peacekeeping force.
UNIFIL’s mandate is up for renewal in August of this year and there are efforts to downsize the number the peacekeeping troops as well as expanding the mandate to allow for UNIFIL to access private property. Hezbollah has been accused of using private lands to dig underground tunnels into Israel and to store its arsenal of rockets.
During the meeting on 1559 on Wednesday, the Security Council touched on the economic crisis in Lebanon and the need for the Lebanese authorities to implement reforms that were pledged at CEDRE in 2018.
If the necessary reforms are implemented, the Security Council said it was willing to help Lebanon, including in its latest fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Members of the Security Council took due note of the approval by the Government of Lebanon of an economic plan as well as of the commencement of negotiations between Lebanon and the IMF,” the statement from the French mission said.
Lebanon and the IMF began talks Wednesday after asking the IMF for assistance at the beginning of May. This comes after Lebanon defaulted on sovereign debt for the first time in March.