Lebanon: UNIFIL head expresses concern over incidents along ‘Blue Line’

Middle East Monitor  /  August 17, 2023

The head of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) expressed his concern on Wednesday over a series of incidents along the Blue Line in recent months.

Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Aroldo Lazaro also appealed for engagement in talks about the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, and Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, to address outstanding issues between the neighbouring countries.

Lazaro made his appeal while chairing a tripartite meeting with senior Lebanese and Israeli army officers at a UNIFIL position in Ras al-Naqoura. Discussions focused on the situation along the Blue Line, air and ground violations, and other issues within the scope of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006) and subsequent resolutions.

The Blue Line was established in 2000 after Israel pulled its forces out of southern Lebanon. A project has been in place since 2007 to demarcate the border.

The UNIFIL head also urged the parties to continue to avail themselves of UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanisms while avoiding unilateral actions. “I appealed for engagement in Blue Line talks to address outstanding issues highlighting the importance of positive signals by both parties ahead of the Security Council consideration of UNIFIL’s mandate renewal,” said Lazaro.

Since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon, regular tripartite meetings have been held under UNIFIL auspices as an essential conflict-management and confidence-building mechanism. “Today was the 162nd such meeting,” explained the UN body. “Through its liaison and coordination mechanisms, UNIFIL remains the only forum through which the Lebanese and Israeli armies officially meet.”

The Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of UNIFIL ahead of its 31 August expiry.