Ban worried by arms race in Lebanon

Notes growing threat from extremist groups in Palestinian refugee camps.

By MICHAL LANDO JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
May 8, 2007 23:40
1 minute read.
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In a report to the United Nations Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warned that despite Syria's continued denial of arms transfers across the Lebanese border, reports from Israel and "other member states" reveal ongoing arms trafficking, most of which are reported to reach Hizbullah. Ban was reporting on the implementation of Resolution 1559, adopted in 2004, which calls for all foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon and for the Lebanese government to establish control. Such transfers are alleged to be taking place on "a regular basis," Ban wrote. "Any form of illegal transfer of arms does not only stand in contradiction to Resolution 1701, it also inherently undermines the authority of the state and its monopoly on the legitimate use of force." The prolonged political crisis that paralyzed Lebanon raises fears that the status quo established in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war "may unravel, lead to widespread rearming and thus raise the spectre of renewed confrontation amongst the Lebanese," Ban noted. "I am deeply concerned, however, that the existing public and media discourse - whether based on evidence or speculative - may in fact accelerate, if not prompt, a domestic arms race in Lebanon, with unforeseeable consequences," Ban warned. Ban urged the UN to suggest proposals for monitoring the Syrian-Lebanese border. The Israeli Mission to the UN could not be reached for comment. With respect to Israel, Ban reiterated that despite Israel's continued assertion that IAF surveillance flights are a necessary security measure, he continued to expect that Israel's "air incursions and violations of Lebanese sovereignty" would cease fully. The report also addresses concern over a growing threat from extremist Islamist groups, who have "reportedly found safe haven in Palestinian refugee camps." In his concluding statements, Ban wrote that he remains concerned over the "extent and detail" of reports that illegal arms trafficking to Lebanon continues to take place. He reiterated his belief that the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon and the delineation of the Syrian-Lebanese border "are essential measures to affirm the strict respect for Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Lebanon and enable the full implementation of resolution 1559."

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