|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/SC/1236|
|Release Date: 20 June 2000|
Security Council Endorses Secretary-General’s Conclusion
On Israeli Withdrawal from Lebanon as of 16 June
Presidential Statement Notes Reports of Violations,
NEW YORK, 18 June (UN Headquarters) -- After consultations throughout the weekend, the Security Council this afternoon endorsed the work done by the United Nations as mandated by the Security Council, including the Secretary-General’s conclusion that, as of 16 June, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978).
In a statement read out by its President, Jean-David Levitte (France), the Council noted with serious concern reports of violations that had occurred since 16 June, and called upon all parties to respect the line identified by the United Nations.
It called on all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the United Nations and to exercise the utmost restraint. The Council also noted that the United Nations could not assume law and order functions that were properly the responsibility of the Lebanese Government. It welcomed that Government’s first steps in that regard, and called on it to proceed with the deployment of its armed forces into the Lebanese territory vacated by Israel as soon as possible, with the assistance of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The Council welcomed measures taken by the Secretary-General and others to augment UNIFIL, stressing that its redeployment should be coordinated with the Government of Lebanon.
In a press conference after he confirmed the withdrawal to the Council on Friday, the Secretary-General said it was a happy day for Lebanon, but also for Israel. He expressed the hope that the implementation of resolution 425 would be seen by all people of the region, especially Syrians, Palestinians and Israelis, as well as Lebanese, as an encouragement to quickly move ahead in negotiating peace treaties.
He described the main task of UNIFIL as helping the Lebanese Government and armed forces to assume their responsibilities along the border and throughout the area from which Israel had withdrawn. The Secretary-General also called on the international community to assist in the economic reconstruction of South Lebanon, and in rebuilding its links to the rest of the country.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m., suspended at 10:15 a.m., resumed at 3:47 p.m. and adjourned at 3:55 p.m.
Council Work Programme
When the Council met this afternoon, it had before it the Secretary-General's report on the implementation of Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) (document S/2000/590).
In resolution 425 (1978), the Council called upon Israel to cease its military action against Lebanese territorial integrity and withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory. The resolution also established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to confirm the Israeli withdrawal, restore international peace and security, and assist the Government of Lebanon in establishing its effective authority in the area. Resolution 426 (1978) established UNIFIL for an initial period of six months.]
In the report, the Secretary-General advises that Israel has met the requirements established in his 22 May report for the implementation of resolution 425. Those requirements were that Israel completely withdraw from Lebanese territory, that the Israeli auxiliary force, known as the South Lebanon Army (SLA) be dismantled, and that all detainees in Al-Khiam prison be released.
The Government of Lebanon, he advises, has moved quickly to re-establish its effective authority through deployment of its security forces. On 12 June it advised the United Nations it would send a composite force of army and internal security personnel to be based in Marjayoun. It also stated it would consider deploying its armed forces throughout southern Lebanon following confirmation by the Secretary-General of the withdrawal.
The report outlines the positions on the withdrawal communicated to the Secretary-General by the Governments of Lebanon and Israel. The Lebanese Government advised that the line used for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal did not conform in three locations to the internationally-recognized border with Israel. Concerning the Shab'a farmlands, both Lebanon and Syria state that this land belongs to Lebanon. Also, concerning the eastern part of the border between Syria and Lebanon, the report notes, Lebanon is insisting on Israeli withdrawal from all Lebanese territory in the Mount Hermon area. It also insists on the on the immediate release of Lebanese hostages and detainees (as well as the return of Lebanese corpses) from Israeli prisons. It considers that all water equipment and infrastructure established by Israel in the territory be disconnected as part of the withdrawal, and the United Nations investigate why the southern part of the Hasbani River runs dry.
A letter from the Israeli Prime Minister quoted in the report states that Israel continues to have serious reservations about the map used to delineate the lines for withdrawal, notably in the area of border pillar 4 and the village of Metula. It also states that Israel has consistently argued that the resolution 425 line should not include the eastern Hasbani River. The Israeli Prime Minister also expresses concern about the division of the village of Rajr, which is describes as a "former Syrian village".
Notwithstanding their reservations, both governments have confirmed that establishing the identifying line was the sole responsibility of the United Nations, the Secretary-General notes, and that they would respect the line the United Nations' identified.
The report also comments on cooperation received from Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
Regarding the future role of the United Nations, the Secretary-General states that the first phase of UNIFIL's reinforcement is currently underway, and that the force is expected have 5,600 troops by early July. He notes that his 22 May report said that an additional two mechanized infantry battalions would be required by UNIFIL. That report also warned that, if the reinforcements were not available, there was a possibility that UNIFIL would not be able to adequately cover its full area of operations. No firm commitments of troops that meet the criteria have yet been received from Member States, he advises, so he is not in a position to say when they will be deployed.
The Council President, JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) proposed the adoption of the agenda.
VLADIMIR N. SERGEEV (Russian Federation) said that in the light of the importance of the matter before the Council, Council members should be clear and possess all available information. He was advised that additional information on the matter was now available, and he sought a short suspension of the meeting to allow informal consultations.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said that every delegation had the right to call for consultations on any matter, and so, of course, he had no objection to the suspension requested by the representative of the Russian Federation. However, he pointed out that the matter before the Council was urgent, and that the Council had already spent a long time considering it. He hoped the break would be short, and that the Council would resume its meeting very quickly.
The meeting was suspended at 10:15 a.m.
When the Council resumed at 3:47 p.m., the PRESIDENT read out the following statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2000/21:
"The Security Council welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of 16 June 2000 (S/2000/590) and endorses the work done by the United Nations as mandated by the Security, including the Secretary-General's conclusion that as of 16 June 2000 Israel has withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978 and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000 (S/2000/460). In this regard, the Council notes that Israel and Lebanon have confirmed to the Secretary-General, as referred to in his report of 16 June 2000 (S/2000/590), that identifying the withdrawal line was solely the responsibility of the United Nations and that they will respect the line as identified.
"The Security Council welcomes the steps already taken by the parties to implement the recommendations of the Secretary-General contained in his report of 22 May 2000.
"The Security Council calls on all parties concerned to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and to exercise utmost restraint. The Council re-emphasizes the need for strict respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized boundaries.
"The Security Council, recalling resolution 425 (1978) and resolution 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, calls on the Government of Lebanon to ensure the return of its effective authority and presence in the south. The Council notes that the United Nations cannot assume law and order functions which are properly the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon. In this regard, the Council welcomes the first steps taken by the Government of Lebanon and calls upon it to proceed with the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces as soon as possible, with the assistance of UNIFIL, into the Lebanese territory recently vacated by Israel.
"The Security Council welcomes the measures taken by the Secretary-General and the troop-contributing countries relating to UNIFIL augmentation, in accordance with paragraph 32 of the report of the Secretary-General of 22 May 2000. The Council stresses that the redeployment of UNIFIL should be conducted in coordination with the Government of Lebanon and with the Lebanese armed forces as stated in paragraph 21 of the report of the Secretary-General of 16 June 2000. In that context, the Council invites the Secretary-General to report back on the measures taken to that effect and those taken by the Government of Lebanon to restore its effective authority in the area, in accordance with its resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978). The Council looks forward to the completion of the mandate of UNIFIL and will review by 31 July 2000, the need to extend the present mandate of UNIFIL, taking into account the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 425 (1978) and 426 (1978), including the actions taken by the Government of Lebanon to restore its effective authority in the area.
"The Security Council expresses its appreciation and full support for the continuing efforts of the Secretary-General, his Special Envoy to the region, the Chief Cartographer and their staff. It commends the troops of UNIFIL and the troop-contributing countries for their commitment to the cause of international peace and security under difficult circumstances. The Council calls on all parties concerned to continue to cooperate with the United Nations, and reiterates the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of the United Nations and Associated Personnel of 1994.
"The Security Council stresses again the importance of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973."
The meeting adjourned at 3:55 p.m.
|* * * * *|