UN envoy hopes to see renewed commitment to Lebanese-Israeli peace

14 August 2009 – The top United Nations envoy for Lebanon said he hopes that the country’s new Government, when formed, will renew its commitment to, and fully carry out, the Security Council resolution which helped to end the 2006 war between Hizbollah and Israel.Michael Williams added that the UN stood behind Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri’s efforts to form a new government in consultation with all the political parties in Lebanon.

“We hope that this process will be completed soon in order to allow the new government to address the many socio-economic and political challenges facing the country,” he told reporters yesterday following a meeting in Beirut with Mr. Hariri.

Mr. Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, said the Lebanese authorities and different Lebanese political parties and groups have repeatedly assured him of their commitment to resolution 1701, which was adopted three years ago this week.

The resolution called for renewed respect for the Blue Line separating the Lebanese forces and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the disarming of militias and an end to arms smuggling, among other elements.

In an opinion piece published today in the Beirut daily An-Nahar, Mr. Williams noted that resolution 1701 not only ended 33 days of warfare between Israel and Lebanon, but ushered in the longest period of stability along their shared border in a quarter of a century.

He cited areas of progress, including the ongoing process of demarcating the Blue Line and last year’s exchange of prisoners and remains between Hizbollah and Israel.

“But the overall objectives of resolution 1701 – a permanent ceasefire and lasting solution – are yet to be achieved,” he wrote. “The situation in the south and along the Blue Line remains, though largely calm and stable, fragile.”

Among other things, Israeli overflights continue and there has been limited progress towards resolving the issue of the Sheb’a Farms area, he said. In addition, a number of recent incidents, including the explosion in an arms cache in Khirbet Silim last month and subsequent reactions, were “a stark reminder” of how quickly and dangerously the situation in the south and along the Blue Line can deteriorate.

“For the sake of the affected populations, we must not tire in our effort to fully implement resolution 1701 and work towards the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region,” stated Mr. Williams.

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