UNIFIL's position on Israeli's proposal for works in Ghajar, Attributable to UNIFIL Spokesperson
UNIFIL's position on northern Ghajar is very clear: Israel must withdraw from this area and its presence there is a clear and continuing violation of resolution 1701. There is no disputing the fact that this area, which is north of the Blue Line, is Lebanese territory and Israeli withdrawal from the area is not a subject of negotiation – it is an obligation that Israel must deliver on.
UNIFIL has been very categorical and consistent in making this demand on the Israelis in all our meetings, bilateral or tripartite, and even the UN Secretary-General has been raising this on every occasion.
Since 2006, every Force Commander of UNIFIL has pursued this objective as a priority and we have made so many proposals to the parties to facilitate Israeli withdrawal in a way that would ensure that the security and humanitarian concerns are duly addressed. Our latest proposal was sent to the parties in June 2011. The Lebanese authorities agreed to the proposal in July 2011; however, UNIFIL has not received any response from Israel despite constant requests.
Recently, IDF informed UNIFIL about the intention of the municipality of Ghajar to reinforce the fencing around the entire village, including the northern part which is inside Lebanese territory, within the existing parameters of the occupied area.
UNIFIL told the IDF unequivocally that its obligation is to withdraw from northern Ghajar in accordance with resolution 1701, and that UNIFIL objects to works of this nature being conducted in the occupied area. At the same time, as per procedure, UNIFIL conveyed all information provided by IDF to the Lebanese side. The LAF responded that they considered the works as a clear violation of resolution 1701 and insisted that the works should not be allowed to proceed.
UNIFIL subsequently informed IDF of the LAF position and reiterated its own objection to the works. We also cautioned about the potential of tensions in the area if the works were allowed to proceed. We suggested the issue be discussed during the tripartite meeting, scheduled for 8 May.
The IDF undertook to stop the works inside occupied Lebanese territory and agreed to discuss the issue at the tripartite meeting.
As usual, UNIFIL has been working in close coordination with the LAF. UNIFIL teams remain on ground and are closely liaising with the parties. The focus is on ensuring full respect for, and preventing violations of, the relevant provisions of resolution 1701.
Both sides have assured us strongly that they do not want any escalation.