BEIRUT — Lebanon's Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri said that "no diplomats talked to him about the implementation of [UN Security Council Resolution] 1701 based on the desire of Israel," in comments published by Al Liwaa on Friday morning.
UNSC 1701, which put an end to the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, provides for the latter's withdrawal north of the Litani River and the deployment of the Lebanese Army and a multinational force in the border region.
Berri's remarks come at a time when Hezbollah and Israel are exchanging increasingly heavier fire on a daily basis since Oct. 8, one day after the start of the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. A fragile one-week truce was observed from Nov. 24 until Nov. 30, before fighting resumed. The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 110 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters, while fears of an all-out war between Lebanon and Israel are regularly voiced by some foreign powers.
'Beyond the Litani river'
During a visit to Beirut last week, French President Emmanuel Macron's emissary, Jean-Yves Le Drian, called for stabilizing the situation in southern Lebanon, seeing the current period as an opportunity to fully implement 1701.
On Wednesday, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant declared that his country "will take Hezbollah beyond the Litani River, either through an international political settlement or through military action."
Commenting on the UNSC 1701 resolution, Berri said that everything that is being said about the UNSC resolution 1701 "is not true."
"I hope the [Israelis] implement [the resolution], withdraw from the Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shouba Hills, the Ghajar village, and the 13 conflict points," Berri added.
Regarding Israel’s demand for a buffer zone south of the Litani River, Berri said: “[Let them] create a buffer zone [in Israel].”
Head of the French General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) and former ambassador to Lebanon Bernard Émié also visited Lebanon a few days ago and held meetings with several officials in a visit kept away from the media.
Hochstein in Lebanon?
Moreover, according to local media outlets, American envoy Amos Hochstein met a few days ago with Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Bou Saab in Dubai and told him that Resolution 1701 "is not on the front burner and that its amendment is not currently on the table."
Responding to whether American envoy Amos Hochstein will visit Beirut, Berri said that he "was not aware."
When asked about the possibilities of war in Lebanon, Berri said the country is "in the heart of the war." He praised Hezbollah’s operations, "which did not deviate one millimeter from the rules of engagement, although Israel went too far in some of its bombing and raids." He added that "this is not out of inability, but because the party is keen on the country and its people, and because he does not want to give Netanyahu the opportunity to drag everyone into the Holocaust."
Finally, Berri said that his party, the Amal Movement, is ready to defend Lebanon and its people.
"If they enter our land, we will be the first to resist," he stressed.
At least one Amal fighter was announced killed since the start of the conflict.