UN Envoy Says Israel won’t Attack Lebanon over Hasbani Dispute
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s representative, Staffan de Mistura, told Lebanese officials Friday that he had received assurances from Israel that it wouldn’t “provoke a crisis” over Lebanon’s drawing water from the Hasbani River, said reports.
Lebanon officially started on Friday pumping water from the river.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres “told me and UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen that the water issue should be dealt with cautiously,” de Mistura said following talks with Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
He said Peres has given “constructive signals over his intention to calm down the crisis,” during talks in Jerusalem earlier this week.
De Mistura, who also met President Emile Lahoud, backed Lebanon’s “right to pump a small amount of water to provide for villages in the region” and that Lebanon “wasn’t trying to divert the river’s course,” said the paper.
“It’s very simple: Lebanese villages have the right to pump an agreed amount of water from this river which runs through Lebanon,” he asserted.
Israel is closely following the amount of water pumped out of the river, in order to ensure that the water being used is for local purposes only, and not an attempt to divert the flow of the river, according to Haaretz newspaper.
Meanwhile, the UN official applauded Lebanon for setting up a committee to follow up de-mining in the south after the United Arab Emirates expressed willingness to finance the operation, said the paper.
“This is an example which must be followed by all Arab countries,” he said.
He said the issue of de-mining in the South must be addressed during the Arab summit in Amman.
“The next step must be to organize a conference for de-mining, which may take in the near future,” he added – Albawaba.com