US: Security Council must enforce Hezbollah disarmament, strengthen UNIFIL

Both Israel and the US want to see the peacekeeping mission's powers strengthened to properly monitor Hezbollah activity against the Jewish state.

US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft (photo credit: SCREEN CAPTURE/UN WEB TV)
US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft
(photo credit: SCREEN CAPTURE/UN WEB TV)
The UN Security Council must ensure that armed groups in Lebanon such as Hezbollah are disarmed and that the role of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is strengthened so that it can properly investigate the paramilitary group’s violations, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said on Wednesday.
The US is “deeply concerned about the continued operation of armed militias operating outside of government control, as well as Iran’s and Syria’s transfers of weaponry to Hezbollah and other non-state actors in Lebanon,” Craft said.
She spoke at a closed door session of the UNSC on the implementation of its 2004 Resolution 1559, which called for armed groups in Lebanon to be disarmed and disbanded and for Lebanese sovereignty to be upheld.
“We urge every council member to treat the arms embargo with the appropriate seriousness,” she said.
The UNSC heard a report authored by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the inability to enforce the resolution. The meeting following a similar debate held a week earlier on the 2006 Resolution 1701, which set the cease fire terms that ended the Second Lebanon War, including the monitoring role of UNIFIL. The interim forces' mandate is renewed annually in August.
Both Israel and the US want to see UNIFIL’s powers strengthened to properly monitor Hezbollah activity against the Jewish state.
At the meeting, Craft bemoaned the lack of enforcement of the UN resolutions.
“Once again, the report states – and I quote – 'There has been no tangible progress towards the disbanding and disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias,' and that, 'no specific steps have been taken to tackle this critical issue' since the adoption of UNSCR 1559 in 2004,” Craft said.
She took issue with claims that Hezbollah was a legitimate entity within Lebanon.
“Do legitimate political parties maintain weapons stored beyond the control of the political systems in which they participate? Of course not,” Craft said.
She also called on the Security Council to ensure that UNIFIL could operate unimpeded.
In the aftermath of the meeting, the Security Council presidency – held this month by Estonia – put out a statement reaffirming Lebanon’s sovereign and territorial integrity.
The statement did not mention either Hezbollah or Israel by name, but alluded to Hezbollah when it spoke of armed groups, and Israel when it mentioned air violations. In his report to the UNSC last week, Guterres spoke of Israeli flyovers in Lebanon as violations of Resolution 1701.
The UNSC presidency statement said that member states “recalled the importance of fully implementing UNSCR 1559, which requires the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon so that there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than those of the Lebanese state, and they recalled that the violations of the Lebanese sovereignty, by air and land, should immediately stop.”