14th report of the UN Secretary General on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006)
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Report
1. The present report provides a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006) since the last report of the Secretary General was issued on July 1, 2010 (S/2010/352).
2. For the first time since the cessation of hostilities between the parties in August 2006, direct fighting broke out between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Army on August 3, resulting in casualties on both sides. This incident, the most serious to have taken place since the cessation of hostilities, illustrated the fragility of the security environment across the Blue Line and raised the specter of a serious escalation between the parties.
3. While all parties continue to state their commitment to the full implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006), repeated and continuous breaches by the parties of their obligations under the resolution were recorded over the reporting period. No progress was recorded with regard to key obligations under the resolution, including withdrawal from the northern part of Ghajar and adjacent area, as described in further detail in this report. There was also no movement from the current state of cessation of hostilities to a permanent ceasefire, as called for in the resolution.
4. In Lebanon, political tension increased markedly during the reporting period, fueled by speculation and public pronouncements over potential indictments to be issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Against this background, a historic summit among the president of Lebanon, the king of Saudi Arabia and the president of the Syrian Arab Republic held in Beirut on July 31 succeeded in lowering tensions which, unfortunately, have resurfaced in recent weeks. While state institutions, including the Cabinet of National Unity, continue to function, confrontation over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon has led to the deterioration of the political consensus that had prevailed since the formation of the government in 2009.
5. During the reporting period, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic continued to increase their cooperation. On July 18, 17 agreements covering security and economic issues were signed during a visit to Damascus by a Lebanese ministerial delegation headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Some of these agreements directly affect the management of the border between both countries. Subsequent meetings between President Bashar Assad and Hariri took place during the trilateral Summit with Saudi Arabia in Beirut on July 31, and later in Damascus on August 29. It is expected that these contacts will translate into further progress on key aspects that Ė although pertaining to bilateral relations between the two countries Ė also have a direct bearing on the full implementation of UN Resolution 1701 (2006).
II- Implementation of
Resolution 1701 (2006) and other related resolutions.
6. On September 1, the Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the United Nations, through identical letters addressed to the president of the Security Council and to me (A/64/908-S/2010/460), conveyed information about the continued investigations by the Lebanese security agencies of alleged Israeli spy networks in Lebanon, asserting that they constituted a blatant aggression against Lebanon and its sovereignty. The letter alleges, inter alia, that ďtheir existence is contrary to international resolutions, in particular Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006), paragraph 5.Ē
The letter included lists of names of individuals alleged to have been involved, some of whom already have been tried.
A situation in the UNIFIL area of operations
7. The situation in the UNIFIL area of operations was relatively stable during the reporting period in spite of several significant security incidents. In my letter to the President of the Security Council dated August 11, 2010, recommending the extension of UNIFILís mandate (S/2010/430), I reported on the exchange of fire between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Army that occurred on August 3, 2010, in the general vicinity of Al-Adaysseh. Following this incident, the parties reconfirmed their commitment to the cessation of hostilities and the implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006).
8. UNIFIL completed its investigation into the August 3 incident and shared the investigation report with the parties in late August. The UNIFIL investigation found that the location of the Israeli tree-cutting works and the deployment of Israeli Army troops were approximately 93 meters south of the Blue Line. Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL personnel were deployed along the main road in Al-Adaysseh, which is customarily used, with no objections from the Israeli Army, by the Lebanese Armed Forces, Lebanese civilians and UNIFIL although it is located some meters south of the Blue Line.
As part of its efforts to prevent an escalation of the situation, UNIFIL called on the Lebanese Armed Forces not to open fire and proposed to the Israeli Army to delay work for one day and for UNIFIL to carry out the work. Both parties rejected UNIFILís proposals. The Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers were the first to take combat positions, aiming their weapons in the direction of Israeli troops. Immediately thereafter, Israeli Army soldiers also took combat positions, aiming their weapons in the direction of the Lebanese troops. The investigation found that the first shot was fired into the air by a Lebanese soldier, which was followed, within seconds, by two additional shots and a burst of fire by other Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers.
The Israeli Army deployed at the location subsequently opened fire in the direction of the Lebanese Armed Forces troops. The Israeli Army fire at the Lebanese Armed Forces, including across the Blue Line, was subsequent to the Lebanese Armed Forces fire directed at the Israeli Army. The exchange of fire lasted approximately three hours, with varying intensity and intermittent lulls. The Lebanese Armed Forces used personal weapons, medium machine gun and, at least on one occasion, a rocket-propelled grenade.
The Israeli Army used personal and heavy weapons, tank rounds, artillery rounds and missiles fired from attack helicopters.
The investigation found that, in all probability, the Israeli Army officers were hit by aimed fire originating from the general area behind the Lebanese Armed Forces deployment on the Al-Adaysseh road. In the course of the exchange of fire, the Israeli Army fired at Lebanese Armed Forces positions located some distance away from the site of the incident.
9. The UNIFIL investigation concluded that the Lebanese Armed Forces opening fire, which triggered the exchange, constituted a serious violation of Resolution 1701 (2006) and a flagrant breach of the cessation of hostilities. The Lebanese Armed Forces opening fire and the Israeli Army return fire endangered the safety of Lebanese civilians and UNIFIL troops.
The parties have since provided their comments on the investigation report to UNIFIL, which the Mission has taken into consideration in finalizing the report.
The comments have not, however, altered the conclusions of UNIFILís investigation.
Arms embargo
44. In Resolution 1701 (2006), the Council decided that all states shall take measures to prevent the sale or supply of arms and related materiel to entities or individuals in Lebanon by their nationals or from their territories using their flag vessels or aircraft.
The Council also called upon the government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points so as to prevent the entry of arms and related material without its consent.
45. During the reporting period, the government of Lebanon did not report any breach of the arms embargo imposed by Resolution 1701 (2006).
For its part, the government of Israel continues to allege that Hizbullah continues to rebuild its armament. According to the government of Israel, Hizbullah remains in possession of more than 55,000 missiles and rockets as the organization seeks to acquire even more advanced weapons.
During a recent visit by my special coordinator to Israel, the government of Israel conveyed to him allegations of breaches of the arms embargo across the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Although the United Nations takes these allegations seriously,it is not in a position to verify this information independently.
46. The government of Lebanon has continued to make progress in developing a national strategy for the management of its land borders.
The national coordinator appointed in March to oversee the development of such a strategy submitted a draft to the prime minister in August.
The prime minister is in the process of reviewing this draft before presenting it to Cabinet for approval. The draft strategy will address the upgrading and modernization of legal crossing points between Lebanon and Syria, including the opening of a new legal crossing point that would bring the total number to six, reflecting agreements signed between the two governments in July.
It will also address the issues of control of the land border by dedicated units of the Lebanese Armed Forces and socioeconomic development of border areas. With regard to control of the land border, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces informed my special coordinator that the army is ready to take on these new tasks through the deployment of three border regiments composed of dedicated units, but noted that this will require additional equipment and infrastructure development.
48. In identical letters dated October 13 from the deputy permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the Undersecretary Generals for Political Affairs and for Peacekeeping Operations, the government of Israel asserts that the relevant parties have not taken meaningful action to combat illegal weapons transfers in spite of the efforts by secretary general and donor countries to tackle this issue in an operative manner.
49. The Lebanese authorities deem cooperation with their Syrian counterparts with regard to the management of the border, in particular as it relates to security issues, as satisfactory. At the same time, the effective management of the border continues to be adversely affected by the fact that it is neither delineated nor demarcated, and by the continued presence of Palestinian military bases which straddle the border between the two countries.
Observations
58. Overall, the events during this reporting period suggest a deterioration in the situation in Lebanon. I have expressed my deep concern at the exchange of fire between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the [Israeli Army] that occurred on August 3, in which lives were lost on both sides. I urge the parties to do everything in their power to ensure that this incident remains an isolated one, and cooperate closely with UNIFIL in its efforts to prevent such an event from recurring. I am encouraged that the parties have re-confirmed their commitment to Resolution 1701 (2006) and call on them to fully respect the cessation of hostilities and the Blue Line in its entirety.
60. Notwithstanding the new strategic environment and the relative stability prevailing in southern Lebanon that UNIFIL has helped to establish, in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces, the situation continues to be volatile and more work remains to be done by the parties to advance the full implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006). Long-term sustained efforts are required to ensure that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River is free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL, in accordance with Resolution 1701 (2006).
61. I deem it a priority to resolve the issue of the continued occupation by the [Israeli Army] of the northern part of Al-Ghajar and the adjacent area north of the Blue Line. I urge Israel to withdraw its forces in accordance with Resolution 1701 (2006), without further delay. UNIFIL stands ready to facilitate such a withdrawal. I look forward to a successful outcome of the ongoing discussions referred to in paragraph 11 above, which could help revive momentum for broader implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006).
Disarming armed groups
35. Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) calls for the full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) which require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon so that there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state. However, Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias continue to operate in Lebanon outside of the control of the state, in violation of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006). Hizbullah, which remains the most significant armed group in Lebanon, continues to maintain substantial military capabilities outside of the control of the state, and I continue to receive reports asserting that it has substantially upgraded and expanded its military arsenal. Hizbullah leaders do not deny these allegations, having repeatedly claimed in public that their organization possesses significant military means, which they claim will only be used for defensive purposes. This remains a central issue of contention in Lebanonís political debate.
36. On 24 August, heavy armed clashes erupted between supporters of Hizbullah and the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects (Al-Ahbash), a Sunni group that is a political ally of the opposition, in the Beirut neighbourhood of Burj Abi-Haider. The clashes, which resulted in the deaths of three people, including a senior Hizbullah official, rapidly spilled over to adjacent neighborhoods in Beirut and continued for several hours. The use of machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the fighting provided a stark reminder of the widespread proliferation of weapons in Lebanon and the risk this poses to the maintenance of domestic stability.
37. The presence of Palestinian armed groups outside the camps continues to challenge Lebanonís ability to exercise full sovereignty over its territory. Regrettably, there has been no progress during the reporting period towards the disarming of such groups.
Refugees
74. The situation of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon remains a subject of serious concern. Respect for the basic human rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon requires decisive action to improve their living standards. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) continues to face significant funding shortfalls both for its regular programs, aimed at delivering basic services to the Palestinian refugees, and for the reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared camp. I call upon the government of Lebanon and the donor community to continue their efforts to address the dire socio-economic situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon as a matter of priority. I further urge donors, including countries in the region, to continue, and if possible increase, their support for UNRWA.
75. I remain keenly aware that the implementation by Israel and Lebanon of their obligations under Resolution 1701 (2006) is greatly influenced by dynamics affecting the region as a whole. Tangible progress in the Middle East peace process would contribute to a positive momentum as concerns the implementation of Resolution 1701 and the stability of Lebanon.
76. I call on both Israel and Lebanon to take the steps necessary to reach a permanent ceasefire and to achieve what United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006) terms a long-term solution governing their relations. The achievement of that solution cannot and should not be dissociated from the need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1515 (2003). I call upon the parties and upon all member states to work decisively toward this goal.
Israeli Violations
62. I am concerned about the fact that the [Israeli Army] continues to violate Resolution 1701 (2006) and Lebanese sovereignty on an almost daily basis through overflights of Lebanese territory. These overflights exacerbate tensions in southern Lebanon. They also negatively impact on the credibility of the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL. I call once again on Israel to respect Lebanonís sovereignty by ceasing immediately all overflights of Lebanese territory.
63. As UNIFILís strategic partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces play a key role in the implementation of Resolution 1701 (2006). I welcome the deployment in late July 2010 of an additional brigade of the Lebanese Armed Forces in southern Lebanon. I also welcome the endorsement by the government of Lebanon of the implementation of the strategic dialogue mechanism between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces. I encourage UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces to launch this new strategic dialogue mechanism at the earliest opportunity.
64. The Lebanese Armed Forces have continued to act with strong commitment and resolve, and their capacity has been gradually strengthened with the assistance of international donors. I am grateful to those countries that are helping to equip and train the Lebanese Armed Forces, including the navy, and I urge the international community to continue this critically required support to Lebanese Armed Forces capacity-building. Such support is essential if the Lebanese Armed Forces are to be able to assume effective responsibility for security over UNIFILís area of operations and the maritime entry points into Lebanon in the future.
65. I am concerned about the incidents in the reporting period that impeded UNIFILís freedom of movement, and endangered UNIFIL peacekeepers. The freedom of movement of UNIFIL and the security and safety of its personnel are integral to the effective execution of its tasks, in accordance with resolutions 1701 (2006) and 1773 (2007). The primary responsibility for ensuring freedom of movement to UNIFIL personnel in the area of operations lies with the Lebanese authorities.
11. The [Israeli Army] continued its occupation of the northern part of the village of Ghajar and an adjacent area north of the Blue Line, in violation of Resolution 1701 (2006).
Notwithstanding Israelís obligation to withdraw its forces from the area, UNIFIL has continued to engage both parties in an effort to facilitate such a withdrawal. While discussions have continued on the basis of UNIFILís proposal of August 2008, my special coordinator for Lebanon and the UNIFIL force commander have begun to explore intermediate steps with the parties that could facilitate the withdrawal of the [Israeli Army] from this area.
12. Almost daily intrusions into Lebanese airspace by [Israeli Army] aircraft, mostly unmanned aerial vehicles but also a significant numbers of fighter jets, continued. These overflights constitute violations of Resolution 1701 (2006) and of Lebanese sovereignty.
UNIFIL protested all air violations, and asked Israel to cease them immediately. The government of Lebanon also protested against the violations, demanding that they cease immediately.
The government of Israel maintained that the overflights were necessary security measures, citing, inter alia, the alleged lack of enforcement of the arms embargo as the reason for their continuation.
13. On July 23 shots were fired from an [Israeli Army] position across the Blue Line in the direction of the Lebanese village of Ayta al-Shaab (Sector West). The [Israeli Army] later informed UNIFIL that the shots had been caused by an accidental weapon malfunction. UNIFIL protested this violation of Resolution 1701 (2006) to the [Israeli Army].