Shalev: Lebanon blast reflects Iran threat

Israeli envoy reads letters from Lebanese, tells UNSC July 14 blast demonstrates "volatile reality."

hizbullah in action 248.88 (photo credit: )
hizbullah in action 248.88
(photo credit: )
The July 14 explosions in southern Lebanon, which exposed an apparent Hizbullah arms cache, demonstrate a "volatile reality" and reflect the threat posed by Iran throughout the Middle East, Israel's UN ambassador told the Security Council on Monday. Addressing the council during a meeting on the situation in the region, Gabriela Shalev said the explosions exposed "a dangerous phenomenon that Israel has been warning about for years." Citing an unenforced arms embargo along the Lebanese-Syrian border and the presence of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, she said, "The repeated breaches of Hizbullah of this council's demands are indicative of the danger posed to our region by Iran." The Iranian government "sabotages the peace process" and "threatens the stability of counties in the region." Nearly two weeks after the explosion in a village in southern Lebanon, the incident dominated much of council's open meeting. Last week, the chief of UN peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, briefed the council on the situation, saying the weapons were a "serious violation" of Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 hostilities. US Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff issued a strong statement to the council on Monday: "By Hizbullah's own admission, it is continuing to rearm. This is a dangerous development, which represents a severe violation of a core objective of Resolution 1701, since it was Hizbullah that launched the 2006 war, that neither Israel nor Lebanon sought." He defended Israel's own violation of the resolution; its repeated reconnaissance flights over Lebanon. "We understand Israel's justification for them. Simply put, we have not ensured that Lebanon has secured its borders in order to prevent the entry of illegal arms or related material," Wolff said. "In short, Hizbullah has intentionally perpetuated the threats that lead to these Blue Line violations," he said, referring to the UN-demarcated border between Israel and Lebanon. Shalev began her remarks by quoting a letter sent to Lebanese President Michel Suleiman by residents of Khirbat Silim and published on July 16 in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal. The July 14 explosions "brings into the open what everyone is trying to black out, to obfuscate, and to conceal, namely the illegal arms and their storage in our civilian areas," she quoted the letter as saying. In statements, representatives of several countries expressed concern regarding the situation in Lebanon; they also emphasized their commitment to a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Indeed, many called on Israel to end settlement activity, including for natural growth. Representatives of several European nations called for adherence to the road map peace plan and they articulated newfound confidence in peace efforts, citing in particular the Obama administration's interest in resuming negotiations. Addressing the situation in Gaza, Shalev cited the smuggling of weapons and arms as reflective of Hamas's desire to "provoke another conflict." "The Hamas terrorist organization continues to reject terms established by the international community, namely: recognition of the State of Israel, an end to violence and acceptance of previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians," she said. The PLO ambassador sought to portray Israel as the aggressor. "The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem, remains grave, and the peace process remains frozen. This is because of Israel's continued violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law," he said. In contrast, the Palestinian leadership has "endeavored to uphold its obligations under international law," he said. He called for the immediate dismantling of West Bank outposts and the freezing of settlement activity which he said threatened to destroy the viability of the future Palestinian state and the prospects for a two-state solution.