Israel's envoy to UN demands 'more robust' UNIFIL mandate
UN Photo / Rick Bajornas
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations on Saturday affirmed comments by his American counterpart that slammed the commander of the multinational force charged with keeping peace on Lebanon's border with Israel.
A day after US envoy Nikki Haley said UNIFIL chief Maj. Gen. Michael Beary's position on Hezbollah is "totally baffling", Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon said that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) "cannot continue to remain blind to the weapons buildup in southern Lebanon and they must put an end to Hezbollah’s Security Council violations to ensure calm in our region.
"I call on the Security Council to adopt a more robust UNFIL mandate that will address the serious security threats posed by Hezbollah," said Danon.
Beary told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he has "no evidence" of Hezbollah weapons stockpiles in the area, adding that "we are extremely active in the area and if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it."
In comments to reporters on Friday, Ambassador Nikki Haley responded that "he seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind to what Hezbollah is doing."
"General Beary says there are no Hezbollah weapons. That’s an embarrassing lack of understanding on what's going on around him," she said after returning from an official trip to Europe. "You don’t need to see the numerous intelligence reports that document [the] Hezbollah arms build up to know that it's there. Hezbollah openly brags about their weapons, they parade them before TV cameras."
"For the UNIFIL commander to deny that it has any proof shows that we need to have changes in UNIFIL," added Haley, who later sidestepped a journalists' question about unspecified "daily violations" by Israel of Lebanon's sovereignty.
The mandate for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) expires in December, and the Security Council is charged with renewing the agreement. With strong Israeli backing, the US wants the force to take a much stronger role in preventing the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Hezbollah from transferring further weapons into the area.
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