Cablegate: Unsc: Council's Quarterly Unscr 1701 Consultations

Published: Fri 13 Nov 2009 12:13 AM
DE RUCNDT #1025/01 3170013
O 130013Z NOV 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: STATE 115675
1. (SBU) Summary: UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon
Williams and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations Mulet briefed the Council in consultations on
November 10 on the implementation of UNSCR 1701 over the last
quarter. Both Williams and Mulet and the majority of member
states highlighted the serious incidents and violations that
have occurred during the reporting period and pressed for
greater implementation of the resolution. Williams noted the
recent government formation in Lebanon and hoped it would
positively contribute to greater implementation of the
resolution. All Council members welcomed the new Lebanese
government, voiced appreciation for UNIFIL and UNSCOL's work
in Lebanon, and agreed to press elements on both subjects. A
number of states voiced concern about arms smuggling into
Lebanon, though the Libyan Perm Rep justified any arms
stockpiling given Israel's continued occupation of northern
Ghajar and the Sheb'a Farms. Williams said he would be
working closely with the new government on a border control
regime and called on member states to assist in that effort.
Williams and Mulet and almost all Council members called on
Israel to withdraw from northern Ghajar and cease its
overflights of Lebanon. The French Perm Rep pressed for
Council involvement in the UNIFIL review which DPKO plans to
complete in January 2010 in time for inclusion in the next
quarterly 1701 report. End summary.
UNSCOL and DPKO briefings
2. (SBU) UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams
briefed the Council in consultations on November 10. He
announced that the new Lebanese cabinet had met a few hours
earlier, a day after the President and Prime
Minister-designate had signed the decree forming the
government. He said the ministerial statement still remains
to be negotiated after which the Parliament must approve the
cabinet but said that he looks forward to working with the
new government to ensure the full implementation of UNSCR
1701. He highlighted the "serious incidents and violations
of the resolution" during the past four months and the
relative frequency of the incidents. He noted the "specter
of potential escalation and deterioration of the situation"
and pressed for the parties to move from the current
cessation of hostilities to a permanent cease-fire and
long-term solution. He stated that the "Secretary-General
condemns all violations of resolution 1701, whether in the
form of rocket launches, air, land or sea violations, the
active maintenance of an arms depot, or the use of
surveillance equipment on sovereign Lebanese territory." He
said that there is concern that the commitment to the
resolution is "not fully-matched by action or even other
pronouncements in public" and then referred to both Israeli
pledges to continue surveillance activities and Hizballah
vows to continue to build its military capabilities and to
use its arsenal to defend itself if attacked. He called on
both sides to do more.
3. (SBU) Williams noted the lack of progress on implementing
the resolution, given the delay in Lebanese government
formation, and called for Lebanon to have a "government to
attain the further extension of the state's control over all
Lebanese territory, the exercise of its full sovereignty, and
the assurance that there is no authority in the country other
than the state." He specifically noted that Lebanon's
forthcoming membership on the Council would be a challenge
for the new cabinet, alongside UNSCR 1701 implementation and
the many political, social, and economic domestic issues. He
lamented the lack of progress on the disarmament of all armed
groups, given the delay in government formation, and noted
that the explosions in southern Lebanon and rocket attacks
serve as a "stark reminder of the challenges that armed
groups...pose to Lebanon's sovereignty and authority." He
reiterated the Secretary-General's belief that the
disarmament of armed groups should take place through a
Lebanese-led process, and he welcomed President Sleiman's
recent pledge to reconvene the National Dialogue as soon as
the government is formally established.
4. (SBU) On the issue of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, he
reported that there have been no major security incidents in
the official Palestinian camps during the reporting period
and that the reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared camp has
resumed. He noted the importance of the Lebanese Armed Forces
(LAF) to the implementation of UNSCR 1701 and called on
member states to support them with equipment, training, and
financial assistance so that they can "discharge their
function and strengthen the state's legitimate authority
throughout the country." He confirmed that his office will
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work with the next government on a comprehensive border
strategy in order to enforce the arms embargo. He called on
both Lebanon and Syria to delineate their common border and
address the issue of the Palestinian militia bases straddling
the border.
5. (SBU) Williams called on Israel to end its occupation of
northern Ghajar and to halt its "daily intrusions" of
Lebanese airspace which, he said, are not only violations of
1701 but interfere with UNIFIL operations and breed
resentment amongst the Lebanese population. He called on
both Israel and Syria to clarify the status of the Sheb'a
Farms area and noted the link between addressing this issue
and the disarmament of all armed groups. On regional events,
he termed the October Saudi-Syrian summit as having provided
a "positive momentum" in the Lebanese political process. He
also noted that regional events continue to have negative
repercussions in Lebanon and that the "full assertion of
Lebanon's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political
independence" is inextricably linked to regional peace, and
he urged the Security Council to remain fully engaged.
6. (SBU) UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations Edmond Mulet briefed the Council and quickly
reviewed the incidents detailed in the Secretary-General's
eleventh quarterly report that had taken place in the UNIFIL
area of operations. He said that DPKO has no further details
to share in terms of the investigations behind the rocket
launches, most recently on October 27. He called for UNIFIL
to be accorded full freedom of movement. He noted the
importance of the tripartite mechanism as important to
building confidence. He, too, called on Israel to cease its
air violations and withdraw from northern Ghajar. He
expressed appreciation for UNIFIL Force Commander General
Graziano's leadership and that of UNIFIL more generally.
(Comment: Williams' briefing statement offered more of a
strategic overview of recent events, which we felt the
Secretary-General's quarterly report lacked, while Mulet's
statement was a rapid repetition of the report's sections on
the incidents in UNIFIL's area of operations with few
strategic conclusions. End comment.)
Majority reminds of all
that remains to be implemented
7. (SBU) While all Council members welcomed the announcement
of the formation of a new Lebanese government, the majority
of members used their statements to call on the new
government to focus on UNSCR 1701 and reiterated all that
remains to be implemented under the resolution --
implementation of an area south of the Litani free of
weapons, armed elements, and assets; disarmament of the
militias; demarcation of the border; implementation of the
arms embargo; withdrawal from northern Ghajar; and progress
on the Sheb'a Farms. Many voiced serious concern with the
explosions and rocket launches during the reporting period
and urged the parties to exercise maximum restraint.
Ambassador Wolff delivered the U.S. statement drawn from
reftel and sought to highlight the worrying trends emerging
and the need for greater action in order to forestall a
future conflict. The Russian Perm Rep said he was concerned
by the potential for destabilization and called for more
active participation by the LAF and UNIFIL. All members
voiced support for UNIFIL and most called for UNIFIL's
freedom of movement. The Libyan Deputy Perm Rep strongly
condemned any actions against UNIFIL.
Arms smuggling
8. (SBU) A couple of states voiced concern about arms
smuggling into Lebanon and called for stronger efforts on
border control. The Libyan Deputy Perm Rep said that once
the occupation of northern Ghajar and the Sheb'a Farms ends
and Lebanon is enjoying full security, then there will be "no
need for the stockpiling of weapons." On the arms cache
explosion, he highlighted the distinction that Hizballah has
used -- that the arms were from the 1970s and do not prove
arms smuggling. He did not acknowledge that there are to be
no arms south of the Litani, according to UNSCR 1701. In
response to a question from Japan on the level of arms
smuggling, Williams said that it is very difficult for UNSCOL
to assess arms smuggling north of the Litani river but he
referred to the Hizballah Deputy Secretary-General's comments
to the Financial Times about the growing size of its armory.
Williams stressed Lebanon's need to adopt a strict border
regime and said his office would be working closely with the
new government to that end. He called for member states to
provide assistance for that effort, as well as to the LAF.
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Mulet responded that UNIFIL has no evidence of arms smuggling
south of the Litani river but has found caches of illegal
arms which are a violation of 1701. (Note: During the
Council's consultations, the Syrian Perm Rep went to the
Security Council press stakeout (before the Lebanese
representative had addressed the press) to protest the 1701
report's references to smuggling and urged that the focus be
on Israeli violations. At the stakeout, he was allegedly
asked about the FRANCOP vessel, on which the Israelis found
an illegal arms shipment from Iran to Syria, to which he
maladroitly replied that it was an act of piracy. End note.)
Israeli violations on UNSCR 1701
9. (SBU) Almost all members called for Israel's withdrawal
from northern Ghajar and an end to Israeli overflights of
Lebanon. The Libyan Deputy Perm Rep called for the
inclusion in future reports of statistics on Israeli
violations of UNSCR 1701. He lamented that there was not
more information in the report on the Israeli espionage
networks in Lebanon since much has been documented and Israel
has never denied the reports.
UNIFIL review
10. (SBU) The French Perm Rep called for DPKO to meet with
the Council's military experts before DPKO's Joint Technical
Team departs to visit UNIFIL. The UK Deputy Perm Rep called
for UNIFIL to be kept under the Council's regular review, in
addition to the Secretariat's review. In response to
Ambassador Wolff's question whether the incidents during the
reporting period indicated the need for changes to UNIFIL's
mandate, Mulet replied that UNIFIL's rules of engagement and
mandate are sufficiently robust and that it can carry out its
tasks. He then went on to note that the Secretariat's review
is moving forward. UNIFIL will submit its analysis this week
to DPKO. In early December, a DPKO team will visit UNIFIL to
finalize its recommendations which will be completed in
January 2010 for inclusion in the February 2010 quarterly
report from the Secretary-General on the implementation of
UNSCR 1701. Mulet underscored that the review is not of
UNIFIL's mandate but of its capabilities and whether it has
the right resources to carry out its duties.
Long discussion over press elements
11. (SBU) The French Perm Rep, speaking first, proposed that
the Council agree on elements to the press that the Security
Council President for the month of November (Austria) could
use after consultations. While most members commented on the
proposed press elements in their remarks, a further 45-minute
discussion ensued after all member states had spoken. While
there was easy agreement on the need to welcome the new
Lebanese government and voice appreciation for the efforts of
UNIFIL and the Special Coordinator for Lebanon, there was
little agreement over how to phrase a reminder for all
parties to implement relevant Security Council resolutions.
While France and the United States were in favor of such a
formulation, Russia sought only to mention UNSCR 1701 and not
mention other relevant resolutions, broadly or specifically.
Given the lack of consensus, the Council agreed to forego any
mention of Security Council resolutions in the elements to
the press. (Comment: Given bilateral comments exchanged
between the US and Russian experts, it was evident that
Russia sought to exclude UNSCR 1559 by just having the
Council focus on UNSCR 1701. Ambassador Wolff told the
Council that he would not support an effort by some members
to "walk away from certain Council resolutions." End
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