Thank you for following the LIVE updates on the UNIFIL renewal. We will have more coverage and analysis tomorrow (Friday) on L'Orient Today.
UNIFIL mandate renewal: Four key takeaways
1. The votes
The UN Security Council voted to renew United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon's (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mandate in southern Lebanon on Thursday.
13 countries voted in favor of Resolution 2695. Russia and China abstained.
2. What does the text say?
Lebanon's demand to limit UNIFIL's freedom of movement were not met in the final resolution. UNIFIL can continue to "conduct its operation independently," according to the agreed Resolution 2659, published by the UN.
However, the text does state that UNIFIL should "coordinate with the Government of Lebanon."
3. Abstentions by China and Russia
For the first time, two members of the Security Council abstained from voting - China and Russia.
4. United Arab Emirates proposed amendment on Ghajar not upheld
The UAE voted for the renewal, but stated that it was not entirely happy with the final wording of some of the text.
It reportedly proposed an amendment to the text to say the UN “condemns the occupation” of Ghajar. But the preamble of the agreed text states that the UN is concerned about "the continued Israeli presence in northern Ghajar and an adjacent area north of the Blue Line."
Reaction from Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati:
In a statement caretaker PM welcomed the “issuance of the Security Council's resolution.”
“The extension decision includes a fundamental clause that Lebanon had requested, which concerns UNIFIL carrying out its duties in coordination with the Lebanese government, in accordance with the headquarters agreement. This in itself constitutes a factor of satisfaction, and we thank the understanding of many countries and friends of Lebanon regarding the Lebanese observations", he stated.
Mikati reaffirmed Lebanon's “commitment to UN Resolution 1701 and its respect for all international decisions. We also reiterate the demand for Israel's withdrawal from the Lebanese territories it still occupies, including Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba Hills, and the area of Marjayoun, as well as all the disputed border points within Lebanese territory. We further call for pressuring Israel to cease its continuous violations of Lebanese sovereignty by land, sea, and air.”
“What has been achieved represents a fundamental step in safeguarding Lebanon's rights and sovereignty, and we will continue to work towards accomplishing all that is required in this context."
A little more information on the resolution approved by the Security Council:
In the final version, the UAE's request to change the wording of a sentence regarding the border-straddling town of Ghajar was not taken into account.
The preamble of the text mentions that the UN is concerned about "the continued Israeli presence in northern Ghajar and an adjacent area north of the Blue Line" and emphasizes "that the continuation of construction work in the area goes against the necessary withdrawal of Israeli defense forces.”
According to the report published ahead of the session by the Security Council, the United Arab Emirates had proposed that this part of the text “condemns the occupation” of Ghajar. A request for amendment which was therefore not taken into account.
Just a recap of what's happened:
The UN Security Council has voted to extend the mandate of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.
13 countries voted in favour of resolution 2695, Russia and China abstained.
It comes after Lebanese government and Hezbollah had put pressure in the previous days to remove Article 16, regarding the free movement of UNIFIL.
Reaction from Hezbollah:
A Hezbollah spokesperson told L’Orient Today that the passing of this resolution portrays “the failure of the Lebanese diplomacy that should have prepared early on to face this resolution.”
“This also shows that the world did not listen to Lebanon’s needs. When the US and Israel want something from the security council, they get it simply because there is a hegemony over the security council.”
“We ask from UNIFIL to remain in complete coordination with the Lebanese armed forces before carrying out any mission or else this resolution will remain, as what Hezbollah’s leader [Hassan Nasrallah] 'ink on paper' [meaning ineffective].”
More reaction from Lebanon's representative at the Security Council meeting, who spoke a few minutes ago:
"Their is a difference between the text and the reality on the ground. The resolution to extend the mandate of UNIFIL was requested by Lebanon, tension is not needed, and Lebanon does not need the UN's imposition. Why are you insisting that the problem is between UNIFIL and locals. This is not true. There are many good projects between the locals in the south of Lebanon. No need to induce conflicts where their is no need for them. Let the text be an enabling factor in peace."
Key points from the renewal of the mandate: Article 16 remains
Article 16 requires "the parties that they stop restricting and hindering the movements of UNIFIL personnel and that they guarantee the freedom of movement of UNIFIL, in particular by authorizing announced and unannounced patrols".
Meeting is adjourned.
Updates and analysis to follow...
Reaction from France to the renewal of the mandate, published in a statement on Twitter: "France welcomes the renewal of the mandate of@UNIFIL, whose role is essential to the stability of Lebanon and the region. As a pen, France would like to thank the members of the Security Council for their constructive engagement in the negotiations."
Lebanon speaking at the Security Council: "Allow me from this platform to reiterate and reaffirm my country’s commitment to the resolution 1701 and my country’s commitment to the request and demand of having peacekeeping troops on the ground in Lebanon."
"Regrettably the text did not reflect all of our concerns, the whole picture. This text failed to take into consideration the a particular characteristic on the ground. This particularity is called sovereignty. If Lebanon tries its best and efforts tries to introduce changes to the text it is because it has been keen to protect the sovereignty of the Lebanese."
"Due thanks to the pen holder France for the efforts to arrive at a text that could, as a minimum, win the consensus and agreement of all members. Unfortunately this is the first time that the extension of the mandate resolution is involving the abstention of two security council members and this is a very significant indicator" - Lebanon continues to speak in the session.
Lebanon takes to the floor:
“Coming from the heart - I would like to first express our utmost thank,,,,to all members of the security council who have tried during this long standing negotiation to listen to Lebanon’s concerns and issues and try to reflect them in the resolution that has been adopted today."
Updates to follow...
The United States's speaker stated that "UNIFIL's movement without restriction is necessary."
"UNIFIL should have full freedom of movement. UNIFIL should be able to carry out announced and unannounced patrols in south Lebanon. Hezbollah has constrained the mission's ability to reduce the likelihood of a conflict. Lebanon should take additional steps to ensure that UNIFIL can do its job in ensuring peace. The US has sanctioned Green Without Borders because of its support to Hezbollah, and we will continue to sanction groups that provide a support network to Hezbollah."
The United Arab Emirate's speaker said that "Hezbollah has made a mockery of the resolution 1701 and has not allowed freedom of movement for UNIFIL which obstruct stability on the blue line."
"UNIFIL should be able to move freely in south Lebanon to ensure stability on the borders and UNIFIL should have access to all the locations it needs, and the patrols of UNIFIL should not be hindered."
Russia, who abstained from the vote, stated that the outcome of the text did not "take into consideration the opinion of Lebanon and its leadership who have repeated said their needs to be coordination between UNIFIL, and the armed forces. Our position is conditioned solely on some of the wording in the resolution. We support UNIFIL's work in Lebanon, but we call on UNIFIL's leadership to continue coordinating its work with the Lebanese government."
Albania's speaker stated that "UNIFIL should be able to do its work without interruption or interference."
Ghana urged UNIFIL to "continue coordinating with the Lebanese armed forces and government and to keep upholding the 1701 resolution which was in 2006."
Japan's representative said that "UNIFIL should remain working closely with the Lebanese armed forces."
Japan's representative said that "UNIFIL should remain working closely with the Lebanese armed forces."
China said that the resolution failed to address the Lebanese point of view. "China regrets the lack of respect to sovereignty that the resolution shows, and the poor territorial integrity," the resolution expressed.
"The consent of the Lebanese state is a fundamental. We support UNIFIL in enhancing its communication with the Lebanese government, and the local population. That is the only way for harmony."
"Lebanon has on many occasions send letters to the Security Council on breaches of sovereignty along the border and the security council should take those letters seriously," China's speaker concluded.
Brazil's speaker takes to the floor - it says that their support for UNIFIL's presence in Lebanon is "unwavering".
The United Kingdom's speaker, who voted for the resolution, said after the vote that for Lebanon to ensure stability across the border the "UNIFIL should be able to have complete freedom of movement."
The session started with a voting round for those countries in favor or against the resolution.
13 countries voted in favor of the resolution.
2 countries abstained from voting
The Security Council meeting has just been opened by the United States ambassador to the UN.
The session has now begun.
As we reported on Wednesday - the Security Council meeting was postponed yesterday to today.
It's been reported that one of the points that was the subject of debate until late Wednesday night, was the reference in the preamble to the "concern (of the Security Council) regarding the continuation of the occupation of northern Ghajar”, a village located straddling the Blue Line, “and an adjacent area located north of the Blue Line”.
That's according to a report published on the Security Council website.
Who is on the UN Security Council?
The UN Security Council consists of 15 members, including five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States of America, and 10 members elected by the General Assembly for a term of two years: Albania, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland.
Right now at the UN building in New York we e can see diplomats entering the room of the Security Council. The session has yet to begin in earnest. Updates to follow...
Quick reminder: What is UNIFIL ?
The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is a multi-national force operating in southern Lebanon. It has monitored the Israeli-Lebanon border since 1978. UNIFIL was never intended to have a long-term presence. Its role is to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces, help "restore international peace and security" and assist the return of the "effective authority" of the Lebanese government, according to the UN.
Israel does not want the mandate to be amended. On Tuesday, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and stressed the need for UNIFIL to be able to "act independently in South Lebanon" and to be able to move freely near the borders in order to decrease tension.
You can read more about that here
A short recap on the renewal of the UNIFIL mandate:
Lebanon is pushing for significant alterations to the mandate.
It wants UNIFIL to seek permission from the Lebanese Army before it moves around and does its tasks. Currently, UNIFIL does not need permission from the Army.
Read more here
Hello again - we are bringing you LIVE coverage here at L'Orient Today of the vote at the Security Council to renew the UNIFIL mandate.
The session officially starts at 17h00 Beirut time. We'll be bringing you updates throughout.
The meeting was initially scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed by 24 hours due to a lack of agreement on the resolution text.
The issue lies with Article 16, an amendment approved in 2022 regarding the freedom of movement of the Blue Helmets, which is strongly criticized by the Lebanese authorities and Hezbollah.
Will the Security Council members reach an agreement on Thursday in New York? Join us from 4:45 PM to find out.
The mandate renewal is a diplomatic exercise that takes place every year before the mandate expires on August 31st.
But this year’s renewal comes amid rising tensions along the Lebanese-Israeli border, as well as moves from Lebanon and Hezbollah to make changes to the mandate that would limit UNIFIL’s ability to move around without the permission of the Lebanese Army.
Hi and welcome to LIVE coverage from L’Orient Today of the UN Security Council meeting.
Today the mandate for the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is due to be renewed.
From 4:45pm Beirut time (2:45pm BST) we will bring you LIVE updates from the UN Security Council session. L'Orient Today journalists Olivia Le Poidevin and Claire Grandchamps will be bringing you the updates right here on this LIVE page.
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