Report: UNSC to reject Israeli request to expand UNIFIL role
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 16, 2007
The UN Security Council will reportedly reject an Israeli request to expand
UNIFIL's mandate in southern Lebanon against Hizbullah. An official Security
Council vote on the matter is scheduled to take place later Thursday,
however, Israeli officials already asked European members of the Council how
they intended to vote and they subsequently answered that they were against
such a move, Army Radio reported Thursday morning.
Israel wants UNIFIL troops to be granted new rules of engagement against the
guerilla group, in which the peacekeeping force would be given the green
light to take a more 'proactive' role against Hizbullah and expand its field
of operations from open areas to cities and towns. Israel also asked that
UNIFIL troops be allowed to open fire against Hizbullah operatives, and not
only after they are fired upon.
According to the report, the Security Council will reject the request due to
safety concerns for its personnel on the ground in southern Lebanon. The
mandate of the 13,600-strong UN peacekeeping force is due to expire at the
end of August.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already urged the Security Council to
extend the mandate in a letter to the council president last week.
Ban said Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora had also asked to renew the
force's mandate for a year.
Earlier in the week in Britain, The Telegraph reported that Hizbullah was
paying exorbitant prices to buy up large areas from Christian and Druse
the northern bank of the Litani River in southern Lebanon, where its
fighters were then fortifying positions and stock-piling missiles in
anticipation of a
second round of hostilities with Israel. This was taking place, according to
the report, just beyond the reach of UNIFIL patrols.
The northern bank of the Litani is within 16 kilometers of Israeli border
communities, which are well within the range of Hizbullah's replenished
arsenal of Katyusha rockets. The strategic valleys and rugged hilltops on
the northern bank - well suited to Hizbullah's brand of guerrilla fighting -
are just beyond the jurisdiction of the UN peacekeeping force sent to patrol
south of the Litani as part of a cease-fire agreement that ended last
With Herb Keinon and Josh Brannon