Israel received encouraging messages from France and the U.S. Tuesday that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will be required to aggressively keep Hezbollah activities in check this year.
According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, the change is expected to be adopted Thursday, when UNIFIL’s mandate will be renewed.
Since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, which concluded with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, the mandate ends every year and the council renews it automatically. This year, the U.N. Security Council will demand UNIFIL no longer turn a blind eye to Hezbollah’s violations of the resolution, which include concealing weapons and troop movement, and denying UNIFIL’s requests to monitor certain areas believed to be weapons stockpile sites.
Israeli defense officials believe the restricted area is being used by Hezbollah to store rockets and missiles to threaten Israel with. These areas are better known in Israeli military circles as “nature reserves.”
France, which holds the UNIFIL portfolio in the Security Council, said that if UNIFIL is again denied entry to certain areas, it will report it directly to the 15-member forum.
Israel asked the Security Council to expand the peacekeeping force’s authority and change the way it operates so that UNIFIL will stop ignoring the activities of the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said last week that UNIFIL is blind to the actions of Hezbollah.
UNIFIL Commander Maj. Gen. Michael Beary insisted his force has no evidence of weapons being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the area, adding that “if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it.” In response, Haley said, “Gen. Beary says there are no Hezbollah weapons. That’s an embarrassing lack of understanding of what’s going on around him.”