Chairing Last Meeting as UNIFIL Head, Del Col Urges Lebanon and Israel to 'Build on Progress'
UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col on Friday chaired this year’s first Tripartite meeting with senior Lebanese Army and Israeli army officers in Ras al-Naqoura. It was the outgoing UNIFIL head’s last Tripartite meeting.
Addressing both delegations, Del Col reflected on challenges and opportunities he has seen since taking charge of UNIFIL in early August 2018, and on the way forward.
“We must all play our part to move from the technical level towards the higher-level goal of a sustainable peace,” he said. “This is my parting challenge to you all.”
Del Col said UNIFIL’s open line of communications with the parties remains vital, adding that throughout numerous Blue Line incidents, both the Lebanese and Israeli armies remained engaged, providing UNIFIL time and space for de-escalation.
“It is encouraging that you both continued to work closely with UNIFIL throughout each of these incidents to contain the situation and restore stability,” said Del Col. “This demonstrates the critical contribution of our liaison and coordination channels to de-escalate and de-conflict, at the heart of which is our Tripartite forum.” The UNIFIL Head of Mission also called on the parties to resume the technical Blue Line talks, in order to find agreements on a number of the contentious points along the Blue Line, and to use the Tripartite forum to “build on past achievements, and to make progress towards a more stable environment.”
Other issues discussed at the meeting included incidents along the Blue Line, airspace violations and serious breaches of the cessation of hostilities in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.
Del Col called on the delegations to extend their “usual support” to his successor, Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz of Spain, emphasizing the need to “maintain the same level of commitment, to build on the progress to date and finish those outstanding point which the parties have already agreed on, in line with the expectations of the Security Council.”
“I ask that you continue in this vein of openness and dialogue with my successor,” he said.
Today’s Tripartite meeting was Del Col’s 26th, out of about 150 held since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon. These meetings “have proven essential to manage conflict and build confidence,” UNIFIL said in a statement.
“The Tripartite meetings, convened by UNIFIL’s Force Commander, serves as the only forum through which Lebanon and Israel have direct contact,” it added.