The continued presence of Palestinian armed factions in Lebanon constitutes a serious threat to national and regional security, according to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
In his latest interim report on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, seen by The Daily Star on Tuesday, Ban encouraged Lebanese leaders to exert pressure on groups possessing arms outside of state power.
“The existence of armed groups outside government control is a fundamental anomaly that stands against the democratic aspirations of Lebanon and threatens domestic peace,” the UN chief said. “It is also an obstacle to the prosperity and welfare that the Lebanese people deserve.”
Earlier this month fighting broke out between members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) in the eastern Bekaa Valley. This followed clashes between Fatah al-Islam partisans in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian Refugee camp in March.
Ban issued a strong rebuke to such incidents.
“I remain deeply concerned at the maintenance of paramilitary infrastructures by Palestinian militias outside the camps which pose a threat to the stability of Lebanon,” he said.
Ban also indirectly addressed recent allegations from Washington and Tel Aviv that Hizbullah was receiving long-range scud missiles – capable of striking any target in Israel – across Lebanon’s mountainous border with Syria.
“I continue to receive reports asserting that Hizbullah has substantially upgraded and expanded its arsenal and military capabilities, including sophisticated long-range weaponry,” he said in reference to comments made last week by Israeli President Shimon Peres and White House Spokesperson Robert Gibbs.
The UN head added that although he had received several reports from member states about weapons-transfer activity “across the land borders,” the UN “does not have the means to independently verify” such information.
“I am concerned that such activities have the potential to destabilize the country and could lead to another conflict,” Ban said.
He asked that both Lebanese and Syrian governments redouble efforts to demarcate their shared border in order to better patrol the flow of goods leaving and entering over the Anti-Lebanon Mountains.
“The government of Lebanon can extend its authority throughout the country only if it, and all other relevant parties, know what the entirety of the territory of Lebanon is,” Ban said.
Hezbollah wasn't pleased:
Hizbullah strongly condemned Tuesday the latest report of Terje Roed-Larsen, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, saying it "represents blatant tutelage over Lebanon and revives the headlines of igniting internal strife."The sad part is that this seems to be the position of Lebanon as well - and it has been for a long time. When Resolution 1559 was passed in 2004, here is what the Lebanese response was: "There were no militias in Lebanon. There was only the national Lebanese resistance, which appeared after the Israeli occupation and which would remain so long as Israel remained."
A communiqué issued by Hizbullah said the party was not surprised by "the rhetoric of (Roed-Larsen's) report which sides with the Zionist enemy."
"The resistance is not a militia, as his new-old report describes it, but a Lebanese resistance movement that defends its territory and deters aggression, whether he likes it or not," the communiqué added.
One of the commenters at the Iranian PressTV site wrote this in reaction:
the U.N. should be called the Jew.N.!