July 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 July 2010
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MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon

Expected Council Action

In July consultations on the Secretary-General’s report on resolution 1701 are expected. UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams is expected to brief. No formal action is expected in July but members are likely to have in mind the renewal of the UNIFIL mandate, which ends on 31 August.

Key Recent Developments
At press time, the next 1701 report was expected on 30 June and likely to include issues such as: respect for the Blue Line, which separates the Israeli and Lebanese sides; arms smuggling; disarming of militias; the role of the Lebanese National Dialogue; Israeli occupied Ghajar; and continued Israeli overflights of Lebanese air space.

On 21 June, Lebanon cleared a ship to depart for Cyprus; the ship’s declared destination is Gaza via Cyprus. (However, Cyprus has in place a ban on ships departing for Gaza.) At press time, the ship was still docked and another ship with similar plans had not yet received Lebanese clearance.

The Israeli permanent representative on 18 June and the Israeli defence minister on 21 June expressed concern that those organising Gaza-bound ships from Lebanon were possibly linked to Hezbollah and said Israel would use all necessary means to prevent the ships from breaking the blockade. On 22 June Lebanon said it would hold Israel responsible for any attack. The next day the Secretary-General spoke by phone to Hariri regarding developments on the Gaza blockade. (A 21 June Quartet statement, in response to the partial shift in Israeli policy toward the Gaza blockade, emphasised the use of land crossings for delivery of aid and that there was no need for unnecessary confrontations.)

On 17 June, the Lebanese National Dialogue met but postponed talks to 19 August after failing to make progress on the issue of Hezbollah’s arms. (In November 2009 the Lebanese government adopted a decision allowing Hezbollah to remain armed, citing its resistance role, while also citing the government’s commitment to resolution 1701.)

On 24 May, Hariri met with US President Barack Obama; the issue of arms smuggling in violation of resolution 1701 was discussed. In April Israel alleged that Syria had smuggled scud missiles to Hezbollah, which Lebanon and Syria denied. In early May the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that it had not seen any scud missiles in its area of operations.

On 26 May the Lebanese army fired on, but did not hit, Israeli aircraft violating Lebanon’s airspace (similar incidents occurred in early 2010 and late 2009).

On 13 May several UNIFIL peacekeepers were injured by what seemed to be an accidental detonation of munitions, according to preliminary UNIFIL investigations.

Lebanon concluded its municipal elections in May.

In November 2009, Italy assumed command of UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force for six months, and extended its command through the end of June 2010. At press time no other troop-contributing country had taken up the lead—leaving a gap in this component of UNIFIL as of 1 July.

Human Rights-Related Developments
The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture visited Lebanon from 24 May to 2 June 2010. (The visit was made under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Lebanon is party.) During the visit the Subcommittee reviewed the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in Lebanon and the safeguards for their protection against torture and ill treatment. It conducted private interviews with detainees and inmates in civil and military prisons. At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Lebanese authorities. Reports of the Subcommittee are made public only with the consent of the visited state.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is how to get Israel and Lebanon to move from the status quo—cessation of hostilities—toward a ceasefire and permanent solution. In this regard, expedited progress on demarcation of the Blue Line is one issue. Whether it would help avoid tension and maintain a calm atmosphere is an open question.

Other issues include the regular Israeli overflights, its occupation of Ghajar in violation of resolution 1701 and the fact that Hezbollah maintains significant military capacity in violation of resolutions 1559 and 1701.

The issue of Sheb’a Farms also remains frozen.

Options
The most likely option in July is to take no action, as has been the practice since April 2008, which was the last time the Council issued a presidential statement on resolution 1701. However, Council members may need to give some informal attention to the practical matter that as of 1 July UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force will have no lead country.

Council Dynamics
Council members value UNIFIL’s role in maintaining stability between Israel and Lebanon and note that the situation has been generally quieter than in previous reporting periods. However, there is a level of uncertainty arising from the June adoption of Iran sanctions and how that may affect the fragile calm.

Most Council members agree that progress on issues related to arms smuggling and disarmament is essential but seem to accept that this is only likely to happen in the context of an inter-Lebanese dialogue and improvement on the Israel-Syria track, which is becoming more remote due to strained Israeli-Turkish relations.

Regarding Israeli overflights, some Council members have signalled concern that recently a greater percentage of these are manned aircraft instead of observation drones which may further increase tension between Israel and Lebanon.

This will be the first time that Lebanon is on the Council as an elected member during the UNIFIL mandate renewal.

France is the lead country on Lebanon in the Council.

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1884 (27 August 2009) renewed UNIFIL until 31 August 2010.
  • S/RES/1757 (30 May 2007) established the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
  • S/RES/1701 (11 August 2006) called for a cessation of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel.
  • S/RES/1559 (2 September 2004) urged withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, disarmament of all militias, and extension of the Lebanese government’s control over all Lebanese territory.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/193 (19 April 2010) was the latest report on resolution 1559.
  • S/2010/105 (26 February 2010) was the latest report on resolution 1701.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/334 (22 June 2010) was from Lebanon regarding ships from Lebanon reportedly planning to depart for Gaza.
  • S/2010/321 (18 June 2010) was from Israel regarding ships from Lebanon reportedly planning to depart for Gaza.
  • S/2010/195 (19 April 2010) and S/2010/226 (30 April 2010) were letters from Israel and Lebanon respectively regarding Israel’s allegation that Lebanon violated the Blue Line.
  • S/2010/180 (12 April 2010) and S/2010/209 (20 April 2010) were from Lebanon alleging that Israel violated the Blue Line.
  • S/2010/86 (12 February 2010) was from the Secretary-General transmitting the conclusions of the Joint DPKO-UNIFIL Technical Review to the Council.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Coordinator for Lebanon

Michael Williams (UK)

Special Envoy for the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559

Terje Roed-Larsen (Norway)

UNIFIL Force Commander

Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas (Spain)

Size and Composition of UNIFIL as of 30 April 2010

Authorised: 15,000 troops
Current: 11,871 military personnel
Troop Contributors: Bangladesh, Belgium, Brunei, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, France, FYR of Macedonia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, Tanzania and Turkey

Duration

March 1978 to present; mandate expires 31 August 2010

Cost

1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010: $589.80 million (A/C.5/64/15)

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