Israel claimed a diplomatic victory at the United Nations when the Security Council voted Wednesday night (New York time) to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for a further year and gave the force expanded powers to tackle violations of UN Resolution 1701 by Hezbollah.
Extending the 10,500 strong peacekeeping force’s mandate until August 31, 2018, the resolution also called for expansion of coordinated activities between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces, and reiterated its call for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, welcomed the resolution, noting that it required UNIFIL to expand its reporting to the Security Council, take deliberate action against violations of Resolution 1701, increase the force’s presence on the ground and require the group to patrol Hezbollah-controlled areas of southern Lebanon.
Resolution 1701 is the UN Resolution passed in August 2006 following the 34-day conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
“This is a significant diplomatic achievement that could change the situation in southern Lebanon and expose the terror infrastructure that Hezbollah set up on the border with Israel,” Danon said. “The resolution requires UNIFIL to open its eyes, and forces it to act against Hezbollah’s terror buildup in the area. We will continue the fight against Hezbollah and ensure that UNIFIL fulfills its duties on the ground.”
Danon said that the United States and in particular its UN Ambassador Nikki Haley had been instrumental in achieving the changes to UNIFIL’s mandate. “I thank the United States for leading this important effort, and for standing up for Israel’s security interests,” Danon said.