Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Lebanon
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Middle East, Lebanon, 19 December 2018, New York.
Thank you, Mr. President,
And thank you Under-Secretary-General Lacroix for your update on Lebanon this morning. The recent developments along the Blue line are indeed worrying, as they threaten Israel’s territorial integrity and Lebanon’s stability.
We are deeply concerned with the discovery of tunnels on Israeli territory. We note that a total of four tunnels have been identified, and that these tunnels have been built from the Lebanese side. Tunnels crossing the Lebanese-Israeli border are a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1701.
It is important that further technical investigations are now conducted independently and in accordance with UNIFIL’s mandate. Lebanese authorities must ensure urgent follow-up actions in accordance with their responsibilities pursuant to resolution 1701. UNIFIL’s monitoring and reports of violations of this resolution are crucial and the Security Council should be kept informed.
We condemn all violations of resolution 1701 by both sides, including the almost daily Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace.
We call on all parties now to show restraint and de-escalate tensions. UNIFIL plays an important role in sustaining peace in Lebanon as well as in the region as a whole. We welcome that UNIFIL has now stepped up its efforts to preserve stability, and we emphasize the importance of UNIFIL’s close cooperation with both the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defence Forces. It is crucial to avoid any misunderstandings that could lead to escalation. We encourage the parties to make use of the UNIFIL liaison, coordination and tripartite mechanisms in de-escalating any tensions.
The paramilitary capabilities of Hezbollah remain a clear risk to the stability of Lebanon and elsewhere. The provisions in Security Council resolution 1559 must be swiftly implemented, including the disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.
We welcome positive signs that a Lebanese government is to be formed soon. This is needed for Lebanon to be able to take steps towards a politically and economically stable and secure future. We welcome President Aoun’s renewed commitment to develop a national defense strategy once a government is formed, and encourage political leaders to support the president in this endeavor.
Building the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces is important and should receive increased focus. We strongly encourage continued efforts in this regard, including in the maritime sector, to enable an incremental and controlled reduction of UNIFIL’s naval component in the future. We also encourage increased efforts to ensure that the LAF model regiment in southern Lebanon becomes operational as soon as possible.
There is full unity in support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, as demonstrated by the high-level conferences in Rome, Paris and Brussels earlier this year. The international community must now continue to assist Lebanon in delivering on its commitments and build on the results of these conferences. Lebanon must stay on its path towards stability and peace. This is important not only for Lebanon, but for the entire region.
I thank you very much, Mr. President.