November 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2006
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MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon

Expected Council Action
A report on the developments in the area under control of the UN Interim Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is expected. Whether this report will also contain political elements related to the implementation of resolution 1701 remains to be seen. Council action is unlikely.

Also in November, the Council is likely to receive recommendations on the tribunal to try those responsible for the bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others in Lebanon.

Key Recent Developments
As of 19 October, UNIFIL comprised 7,200 personnel, including 1,500 German naval personnel on the maritime force. The Israeli army has almost entirely withdrawn from south Lebanon and the Lebanese army has fully deployed to the area. An audit mission has been commissioned by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to assess the capacity and needs of the Lebanese troops.

In the zone covered by UNIFIL, there has not been any seizure of illegal weapons. Frequent Israeli breaches of the Lebanese airspace continue, in violation of resolution 1701, causing concern within UNIFIL and leading the French contingent of UNIFIL to deploy anti-aircraft missiles for self-defence.

The Secretary-General reported on implementation of resolution 1559 on 19 October. He noted the following:

  • there has been good progress with the extension of the government’s control over Lebanese territory;
  • on the issue of the delineation of the border between Lebanon and Syria in the Sheb’a Farms area, the Secretary-General is working on proposals for the Council;
  • the Israeli air violations of Lebanese sovereignty are a matter of serious concern;
  • there have been intercepts of arms shipments into Lebanon in violation of the arms embargo established in resolution 1701;
  • the National Dialogue’s decision to disarm the Palestinian militias outside the camps has not been implemented within the six-month deadline, which expired on 26 August; and
  • The National Dialogue did not reach agreement on the disarmament of Hezbollah and has yet to resume.

The Secretary-General has also established a task force comprising political, legal and cartographic experts to develop proposals for the delineation of the Lebanese border with Syria in the Sheb’a Farms area. This may take some time as it seems that there are considerable cartographic and legal issues.

Options
If the Council does not receive a substantive report from the Secretary-General on resolution 1701, which seems likely, an option may be to consider how, given the transition underway to a new Secretary-General, the 1701 process can be reenergised.

Key Issues
The main issue for the Council is to decide whether it really wants to remain actively involved in seeking long-term solutions and thus fulfil its commitment made in paragraph 9 of resolution 1701.

There are also other issues related to implementation of resolution 1701 that the Council needs to address as they are crucial for the implementation of a permanent ceasefire.

  • Israel’s violations of the Lebanese airspace increase the concerns of UNIFIL troops and may provide Hezbollah with the pretext to back-track on 1701.
  • Reports of intercepted arms shipments into Lebanon violates the arms embargo and the Council may want to ask for further details and act accordingly.
  • The status of the Sheb’a Farms remains an issue. Israeli occupation of what Hezbollah considers Lebanese land (though considered Syrian by the UN) provides the militia with an excuse for keeping its weapons. Following both Lebanese and Syrian statements that the farms are Lebanese, the Secretary-General has been mandated to present proposals to the Council on how to resolve that issue. The Lebanese government has asked the Council to “place the Sheb’a Farms area and the Kfarshouba Hills under UN jurisdiction until border delineation and Lebanese sovereignty over them are fully settled.” (S/2006/639) The Secretary-General replied that “such a measure would still require the determination of the precise geographic scope of the Sheb’a Farms area, and […] the possible steps to be undertaken, from the perspective of the United Nations, for the sovereignty of the Sheb’a Farms area to be transferred from the Syrian Arab Republic to Lebanon.” (S/2006/730) This proves to be a difficult task given the absence of cartographic evidence that the farms belong to Lebanon. Therefore, those proposals may be further delayed.

A related issue is the UNIFIL troop level and whether it is still necessary to attain the 15,000 troops ceiling. The UNIFIL Force Commander Major General Alain Pellegrini has suggested there is no urgency to meet the full ceiling.

The rationalisation of reporting to the Council on Lebanon is an issue. Elements of resolution 1701 encompass elements of resolution 1559 and overlapping substance and procedure are presenting logistical difficulties.

It seems that the delay of the report on the establishment of the international tribunal is related to internal disagreements within the Lebanese government. If it is stalled further in November, the issue will be how much leverage the Council has over this process and how it can exercise influence for the tribunal to be established before the end of the year. For issues related to the tribunal, please refer to our October Forecast.

Council Dynamics
It appears that some of the momentum on Lebanon may have been lost and Council members seem reluctant to take initiative to promote 1701’s implementation. Many Council members consider that there is currently too little information on specific issues-for instance, the last report on implementation of resolution 1559 only vaguely refers to arms shipments.

There is also some reluctance within the Council to pressure the Lebanese government to sign the agreement on the creation of the tribunal.

Underlying Problems
An issue still not resolved is the situation of Al-Ghajar, a village located on the Blue Line separating Lebanon and the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. Since 2000, two-thirds of the village has been under Lebanese control but residents from both sides of the village have Israeli citizenship. While those living in the Golan Heights area can usually work and travel freely within Israel, the ones living on the Lebanon side have difficulties. Since the recent war the Israeli army has been occupying both sides. The Tripartite Commission established pursuant to resolution 1701-composed of Israel and Lebanon and headed by UNIFIL-is trying to find a solution to this complicated situation and have the IDF withdraw from the Lebanese side.

Reports from Human Rights Watch indicate that both the Israeli army and Hezbollah used cluster munitions during the recent conflict. There are about one million hazardous unexploded munitions in southern Lebanon, which have already caused an average of three civilian casualties per day since the cessation of hostilities.

Selected UN Documents

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1701 (11 August 2006) called for a cessation of hostilities, authorised a reinforcement of UNIFIL and extended the mandate until 31 August 2007.
  • S/RES/1680 (17 May 2006) encouraged Syria to respond positively to the Lebanese request to delineate their common border and called for further efforts to disband and disarm Hezbollah and to restore fully Lebanon’s control over all Lebanese territory.
  • S/RES/1664 (29 March 2006) requested negotiation with Lebanon on a tribunal of an international character.
  • S/RES/1559 (2 September 2004) urged Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon and the disbanding of militias.
 Reports
  • S/2006/832 (19 October 2006) was the last Secretary-General’s report on implementation of resolution 1559.
  • S/2006/730 (12 September 2006) was the report on implementation of resolution 1701.
  • S/2006/670 (18 August 2006) was the report on the implementation of the cessation of hostilities.
  • S/2006/176 (21 March 2006) was the Secretary-General’s report on the establishment of a tribunal of international character.
 Letters from Lebanon to the Secretary-General and the President of the Council on Israeli acts of aggression against Lebanon (since 1 September 2006)

For more details please refer to our: 25 September  Special Research Report on resolution 1701;  August 2006 Forecast and 20 July Update Report on Lebanon/Israel; April 2006  Forecast on resolution 1559; and the December 2005 Forecast on the Golan Heights and UNDOF.

Other Relevant Facts

 Secretary-General’s Personal Representative to Lebanon
 Geir O. Pedersen (Norway)
 UNIFIL Force Commander
 Major-General Alain Pellegrini (France)
 UNIFIL Strategic Cell within the UN DPKO
 Director: Giovanni Ridino (Italy)
 Deputy Director: François Estrate (France)
Size and Composition of Mission
  • As of 13 October 2006: 5,827 military personnel, including 5,710 troops and 117 staff officers, assisted by 53 military observers from UNTSO; and supported by some 97 international civilian and 308 local civilian staff
  • Troop contributing countries: Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland and Spain.
 Cost (approved budget)
 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007 $97.58 million (gross): This amount does not yet take into account the financial implications of the expansion of UNIFIL.

 

Full forecast

 

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