France is expected to circulate a draft resolution to extend operations of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) before its mandate expires on Aug. 31.
Western diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that France distributed to the rest of the four permanent members (the United States, Britain, Russia, and China) a draft resolution aimed at extending UNIFIL’s mission, after including amendments to its mandate, allowing the forces to implement “more effectively” the provisions of UNSC Resolution 1701, especially with regards to preventing the presence of weapons and militants in its area of operations between the Blue Line and the Litani River.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources said that the proposed amendments fell under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter, as stipulated in Resolution 1701, which was issued by the Security Council in the summer of 2006 to end the war between Israel and Hezbollah.
These amendments “were discussed with both the Lebanese and Israeli sides, through the permanent missions in New York, as well as with the capitals of the concerned countries,” the sources noted, specifying that the consultations had taken place with the now-resigned government headed by Hassan Diab.
The members of the Security Council held a closed meeting on Tuesday to discuss the implementation of Resolution 1701 and the extension of UNIFIL’s mandate. Participants heard two briefings, one by the UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon Jan Kubis on the latest developments, and the second by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the situation in the UNIFIL area of operations. The renewal of the force’s mandate is expected on August 27.
Prior to the meeting, the permanent French representative to the international organization, Anne Gueguen, said: “Everyone is aware of the seriousness of the situation (in Lebanon) and the absolute necessity to meet the aspirations and needs of the Lebanese people.”
She stressed the urgent need for the formation of a new government “as soon as possible”, provided that it “is able to prove to the Lebanese people its ability to face the current major challenges, in the wake of the explosions.”
Gueguen added that the UNIFIL “is an essential element to achieve stability because Lebanon is facing such an acute crisis.”
The presence of the international force constitutes “a strategic asset for the security of both Lebanon and Israel,” she remarked.