Secretary-General Calls for "Orderly Take-Over" from Israeli Forces in Lebanon

UN Chronicle, May 1985 | Go to article overview

Secretary-General Calls for "Orderly Take-Over" from Israeli Forces in Lebanon


Secretary-General calls for "orderly take-over" from Israeli forces in Lebanon

An orderly take-over from Israeli froces--"perhaps in the first instance by UNIFL with elements of the Lebanese Army, with teh ultimate aim of restoring the complete authority of the Lebanese Government and Army"--is viewed by Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar as the best means "to reach a situation in Lebanon south of the Litani after the Israeli withdrawal in which international peace and security can be reassured and normal conditions progressively restored".

In a report to the Security Council containing an account of developments relating to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon from 10 October 1984 to 11 April 1985 (S/17093), the Secretary-General said he would be prepared to consider convoking a new conference of military representatives of Lebanon and Israel "if the Naqoura talks or the 1949 Israel-Lebanon General Armistice Agreement are not acceptable, for one reason or another, to one or other of the parties". To achieve effective and constructive results, some form of consultative mechanism under United Nations auspices would be "extremely desirable, indeed essential". A conference of the military representatives of Israel and Lebanon to discuss military aspects relating to the withdrawal of Israeli forces and security arrangements in southern Lebanon had been convoked by the Secretary-General on 8 November 1984 at Naqoura, the headquarters of UNIFIL. However, at the end of the 14th meeting on 24 January, the conference had been adjourned sine die.

The Secretary-General said that on 14 January, Israel had announced its intention to withdraw from Lebanon in three phases, and the first phase had commenced in February. Lebanon had not agreed to anyrole for UNIFIL in the Israeli withdrawal process north of the Litani. UNIFIL had therefore remained until now in its former area of operation. The activity against the Israeli forces by the Lebanese resistance had markedly increased in recent months, as had the frequency and severity of Israeli countermeasures against the resistance, many of which had taken place in the UNIFIL area. That had created a difficult situation for UNIFIL.

'New situation': The Secretary-General recalled that in a statement on 27 February, he had said that since early February, "a new situation has developed in southern Lebanon. Apart from the restrictions imposed upon the civilian population by the Israeli occupation, the increasing number of attacks on the Israeli forces by Lebanese resistance groups has led to a series of strong Israeli countermeasures, including cordon-and-search operations. The Commander of UNIFIL has reported nine such IDF operations in the UNIFIL area since 6 February. With these incidents, the position of UNIFIL is becoming increasingly difficult."

The statement had continued: "UNIFIL is now stationed in an area where active resistance against IDF is in progress, and in which the latter is engaged in active countermeasures. UNIFIL, for obvious reasons, has no right to impede Lebanese acts of resistance against the occupying force, nor does it have the mandate or the means to prevent countermeasures. In these circumstances, the men of UNIFIL have done their otmost to mitigate violence, protect the civilian population, and reduce acts of reprisal to the minimum.

"There is no easy solution to the dilemma of UNIFIL", according to the statement. "To withdraw the Force would not be in the interest of the Government and people of Lebanon, while to involve it actively in the current violence would merely create a further complicating factor in an already extremely difficult situation. It is essential, therefore, to pursue objectives which will put an end to the current difficulties in the interest of all concerned."

In the meantime, it seemed to the Secretary-General that the only course for UNIFIL was "to maintain its presence and to continue within its limited means to carry out its existing functions in the area. …

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