UN Security Council Says Lebanese Government must Take over South
The UN Security Council told the Lebanese government Tuesday that it must take control of the south of the country, a potential flashpoint between Israel and the Islamic Hizbollah movement.
In a statement, the council called for "an end to the dangerous violations that have continued on the 'blue line'" -- the line marked by UN troops to certify the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon in May.
The statement was read to reporters by the Dutch ambassador to the United Nations, Peter van Walsum, who holds the presidency of the council this month.
Council members were earlier briefed by the head of UN peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, about the role of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the situation there.
The council agreed with conclusion of a report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that "there had been tangible progress in implementing Security Council Resolution 425," van Walsum said.
The resolution, which established UNIFIL in March 1978, called on Israel to withdraw from a buffer zone it had established against Palestinian guerrilla attacks from south Lebanon.
The Israelis finally pulled out on May 24 after 22 years of occupation.
But the resolution also "required that the government of Lebanon take effective control of the whole area vacated by Israel and assume its full international responsibilities," van Walsum said.
He said council members had held "a fairly extensive discussion of the incident of October 7 when three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbollah."
One week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said "there is still a state of alert on the border, which remains tense, particularly in the Shebaa farms region," close to Syria.
Barak recalled Israel's frequently stated position that the Syrian and Lebanese governments were responsible for calm and stability on the border.
In a report to the council on November 1, Annan warned that Lebanon was in danger of becoming "an arena, albeit not necessarily the only one, of conflict between others." -- UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
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