UN Sides with Israel against Beirut on Shebaa Issue
The United Nations Thursday dealt a blow to the Lebanese government by declaring that it had not found any proof to support its case that the disputed Shebaa Farms area does indeed lie in Lebanese territory and not in Syria, as Israel contends, according to Haaretz Saturday.
The area, which lies on the Lebanese-Syrian-Israeli borders is vital for both sides for security reasons, and because it is a rich water.
The UN inspectors charged with investigating the Lebanese claim found that the area which Lebanon claims as its own can be found on the maps of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which patrols the Golan Heights and oversees the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Syria, as opposed to those of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which is the UN's peace keeping force in south Lebanon, said Haaretz report.
The daily reported that an Israeli delegation is currently meeting with UN officials in New York on the matter of the international border. Lebanon and the Hizbollah state that Israel must withdraw from Shabaa, otherwise they will not acknowledge that Israel has pulled back to the international border. Hizbollah are also vowing to continue their war against Israel if it does not relinquish the area.
The Lebanese put their case to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his special envoy Terje Larsen, saying that the land had been given to them as a gift by the Syrians some years ago. Damascus confirmed this; but when asked if they had presented any official documents declaring an amendment to international border between Lebanon and Syria to the UN, the Syrians stated that they did not possess such documents, according to the Israeli daily.
The UN representatives thus concluded “they could not support any claim the Lebanese government and Hizbollah may have over the area,” the paper quoted them as saying.
MIDEAST ENVOY TO BRIEF UN COUNCIL MAY 24
UN Middle East envoy Terje Larsen will brief the Security Council on Israel's planned withdrawal from southern Lebanon next Wednesday, a U.N. spokesman said on Friday, Reuters said.
A report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, based on a recent trip to the region by Larsen, will be issued early next week, the spokesman added. Larsen's briefing was originally scheduled to take place on May 18.
Larsen visited Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt to discuss Israel's intention to end its 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon by July.
"On Wednesday the Security Council has scheduled consultations on the Middle East at which special envoy Terje Larsen is expected to brief the council on his recent trip to the region to discuss Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon," U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.
A key question is whether the 4,500-member UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), established in 1978, will be expanded and deployed further south when Israel evacuates the "security zone" it set up in southern Lebanon to block attacks against northern Israel, said Reuters – (Several Sources)
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