Israel to embark on diplomatic offensive against Hezbollah/Iran at the UN

International community calls on Hariri to return to Lebanon.

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November 10, 2017 14:55
3 minute read.
A PEACEKEEPER of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) stands at a lookout point

A PEACEKEEPER of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) stands at a lookout point in the village of Adaisseh near the Lebanese-Israeli border.. (photo credit: REUTERS/KARAMALLAH DAHER)

 
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Israel plans to ask the United Nations to strictly enforce the 2006 cease-fire agreement that ended the Second Lebanon War as part of its diplomatic offensive against Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah.

“In recent years, the organization [Hezbollah] has expanded its activity in Lebanese territory in a systematic violation of UN resolutions,” Intelligence Minister Israel Katz (Likud) said in an interview he gave the Associated Press. His office then distributed those comments to the Israeli press on Friday morning.

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Katz spoke in advance of a trip to the United States that he is scheduled to take in a few weeks, where he will meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Katz plans to discuss UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and calls for the disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon, such as Hezbollah, and for the Lebanese government to control its country. It also demands that the UN Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) be the only armed force south of Lebanon’s Litani River.

But in the past 11 years, Hezbollah has strengthened its control over the country and, according to Israel, has placed weapons along its border.

A week ago, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned, fearing an assassination plot and stating that Iran, with the help of Hezbollah, had taken over his country.
Lebanon's PM resigns, saying his life is in danger, November 4, 2017. (Reuters)

Last Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the BBC that Iran had taken over Lebanon.

“When Israelis and the Arabs – all the Arabs and the Israelis – agree on one thing, people should pay attention.

We should stop this Iranian takeover,” Netanyahu said.

Katz made similar statements to the AP.

“The situation in Lebanon is a wake-up call that the UN must not miss: Lebanon is Hezbollah and Hezbollah is Iran,” Katz said.

On Friday, the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon appealed in a joint statement for Lebanon to “continue to be shielded from tensions in the region.”

Following a meeting of ISG members with Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Friday, the group, whose members include the United States, Russia and France, stressed the importance of restoring “vital balance” of state institutions in Lebanon, and welcomed “the call of the president for Prime Minister Hariri to return to Lebanon.”

Hariri has been in Saudi Arabia since his resignation.

On Saturday, Aoun called on the kingdom to clarify why Hariri could not leave and return home.

A senior Lebanese official said Aoun told foreign ambassadors that Hariri, who resigned suddenly while in Saudi Arabia, had been “kidnapped” and should benefit from immunity as prime minister.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that Saudi had declared war on Lebanon and his group, accusing Riyadh of forcing Hariri to resign in order to destabilize Lebanon.

The comments mirrored an accusation by Riyadh last week that Lebanon and Hezbollah had declared war on the Gulf Arab kingdom.

The United States said on Saturday it “rejects any efforts by militias within Lebanon or by any foreign forces to threaten Lebanon’s stability... or use Lebanon as a base from which to threaten others in the region.”

The White House called Hariri “a trusted partner” and referred to him as prime minister.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned other countries and groups against using Lebanon as a vehicle for a larger proxy fight in the Middle East. Tillerson told reporters on Friday that there was no indication Hariri was being held against his will but that the United States was monitoring the situation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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