UNIFIL’s top official discusses challenges and opportunities along the Blue Line at Tripartite meeting
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col chaired a Tripartite meeting with senior Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officers today in Ras Al Naqoura.
In his remarks, Major General Del Col reflected on developments in UNIFIL’s area of operations over the past twelve months, including serious incidents along the Blue Line, air space violations and breaches of the cessation of hostilities.
“These incidents clearly demonstrate how vulnerable the Blue Line is to regional dynamics,” said Major General Del Col. “We must do all within our means to shield the Blue Line from these dynamics and ensure our actions are focused on maintaining the cessation of hostilities and stability.”
Updating the parties on Security Council consultations on the latest Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 1701, he noted that the Security Council continues to support UNIFIL through the implementation of resolution 1701.
Noting a number of incidents with the potential for escalation, he urged the parties to avoid provocative acts, maintain open channels of communication with UNIFIL, engage with the Mission to find mutually beneficial arrangements to prevent increasing tension and avail of the mission’s liaison and coordination mechanisms.
“I call on the parties to engage in Blue Line talks to address and solve contentious Blue Line points as urged by the Security Council,” said the UNIFIL chief. “Let’s build on the momentum created through the Blue Line marking process and complete those markers you have previously agreed on.”
Major General Del Col expressed his thanks for the extension of the arrangement supporting olive growers whose orchards are bisected by the Blue Line to harvest their crops.
“I am hopeful that the extension of the Blida arrangement can be built on for other contentious issues along the Blue Line,” Major General Del Col stated.
Since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon, UNIFIL has chaired regular Tripartite meetings with the LAF and IDF. This has proven to be essential to conflict management and confidence-building. Through its liaison and coordination mechanisms, UNIFIL remains the only forum through which Lebanese and Israeli armies officially meet.”