NAQOURA, JANUARY 10 – UNIFIL’s Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today chaired the first regular Tripartite meeting of 2019 with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) at the UN position in Ras Al Naqoura, with a focus on discussions regarding tunnels and ongoing engineering works near the Blue Line.
Today’s meeting offered a forum to hear perspectives from both sides, especially regarding activities near the Blue Line, with the UNIFIL Head of Mission reiterating his call to the parties to continue to work through UNIFIL’s coordination mechanisms to maintain the overall stability.
“I again call on the parties to make full use of UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination arrangements,” said Major General Del Col. “Any activity close to the Blue Line should be predictable, with sufficient prior notification to allow UNIFIL to duly inform the other party and so that coordinated security arrangements could be put in place to prevent incidents or violations.”
The parties were updated about UNIFIL’s independent investigation that had confirmed the existence of four tunnels, of which two crossed the Blue Line in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006). UNIFIL remains closely engaged with both sides in this regard as the operations continue.
Looking back at 2018, the UNIFIL head noted that despite the challenges there had been many successes, and commended the parties for their continued commitment to resolution 1701. “Going forward, there is a need to build on these achievements and work towards more sustainable solutions to long standing problems along the Blue Line,” he added.
Tripartite discussions also touched on air and ground violations, as well as other issues within the scope of resolution 1701 and related Security Council resolutions.
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.
UNIFIL currently has around 10,300 peacekeepers who carry out some 14,500 operational activities monthly in the area of operation south of the Litani River and at sea. The mission also has more than 800 civilian staff. (@OnuItalia)