NAQOURA (SOUTH LEBANON), NOVEMBER 11 – UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col last week chaired a regular Tripartite meeting with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at a UN position in Ras Al Naqoura. As usual, issues relating to UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1701 were discussed.
The UNIFIL Head of Mission underlined the challenges posed by the ongoing political and security developments in Lebanon, Israel and the wider region. “These are very sensitive times,” Gen Del Col said, “As uncertainties around us multiply, extra efforts are required by all concerned to preserve the stability along the Blue Line.”
Addressing both the parties, he added: “The situation demands utmost caution in undertaking any activities close to the Blue Line. Provocative actions of any kind could trigger incidents endangering the cessation of hostilities. In a period like this, even a misunderstanding regarding routine operations or mundane activities along the Blue Line could raise apprehensions on the other side. The liaison and coordination mechanism we have established within the framework of resolution 1701 is designed to avoid precisely such eventualities. It is therefore imperative to keep the communication channels through UNIFIL open so that there is clarity regarding what is happening in your respective domains.”
The UNIFIL Head commended the parties for their continued cooperation with UNIFIL in preserving the cessation of hostilities: “UNIFIL is working in close coordination with the LAF to maintain an effective presence on the ground across the area of operations so that a safe and secure environment is maintained along the Blue Line. At the same time, our liaison channels have been very active in making sure that issues of concern to either party are quickly and amicably addressed.”
Gen Del Col further stated: “It is important that all concerned avoid unilateral action, refrain from rhetorical exchanges and uphold the spirit of this tripartite engagement that has served us well through very challenging circumstances. UNIFIL remains committed to furthering this mechanism, but ultimately its continued success depends on what both the parties want to make of it.”
Tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon as an essential conflict management and confidence building mechanism. (@OnuItalia)