UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary chaired the first tripartite meeting of 2018 on Monday with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israeli army at the UN position at Ras Al Naqoura, a UNIFIL press release said.
Discussions centered around the liaison and coordination arrangements provided by UNIFIL to ensure that there is no misunderstanding or miscalculation along the Blue Line in order to ensure a continued climate of calm and stability, said the release.
There has been great attention on this tripartite meeting due to engineering works south of the Blue Line previously announced by the Israeli side. UNIFIL’s position on the construction works proposed by the Israeli army is that any activity close to the Blue Line should be predictable, with sufficient prior notification to allow for coordination by the parties, so as to avoid misunderstandings and prevent incidents. The discussions were useful and allowed both parties to assert their positions. It was agreed to continue to use the Tripartite forum to address the issue.
Beary welcomed the confidence expressed by both parties in its liaison, coordination arrangements and the Tripartite forum to help facilitate the calm and stability that has been achieved in southern Lebanon.
“UNIFIL stands ready 24/7 for any follow-up meetings,” the Head of Mission/Force Commander told both parties, while encouraging them to “examine the benefits that can be achieved by reaching agreement through close coordination.”
Both sides also confirmed their commitment to further use UNIFIL’s tripartite and liaison mechanisms to address any issues that could provide potential for tensions and to minimize the scope for any possible misunderstandings among the parties.
They also reaffirmed their support in the implementation of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and the operational paragraphs of Security Council resolution 2373 (2017).
“We have again experienced a period of relative calm in the Area of Operation (AO) since our last meeting,” said Beary. “However, there has been a great deal of activity along the Blue Line. I would like to acknowledge the restraint exercised by both parties in decreasing tension and maintaining stability. No one wants to return to a period of escalating tensions and a breach of the cessation of hostilities.”
Beary also emphasized the strategic importance of UNIFIL’s troops deployed on the ground – especially its Liaison Branch - who are playing a paramount role along the Blue Line to defuse tensions.
Tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL since the end of the 2006 war. They have become an essential conflict management and confidence building mechanism between the parties.
UNIFIL currently has around 10,500 peacekeepers who carry out some 13,500 operational activities per month, by day and night, in the area of operations. The mission also has about 900 civilian staff. UNIFIL is complemented by a six-vessel Maritime Task Force.
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