TEL AVIV – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was witness to a heated dispute between UN and IDF officials while she toured Israel’s northern border, Channel 2 reported Sunday.
Haley was briefed by UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Michael Berry who told her the situation on the border with Hezbollah was relatively calm and did not require immediate intervention. Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff and the former head of the Northern Command, reportedly interrupted Berry, telling Haley the situation was the exact opposite. He added that UNIFIL was failing at its job and was too afraid of penetrating the villages and cities of southern Lebanon for fear of encountering the Hezbollah terror group.
The argument happened after Haley asked Berry, according to the report, whether “a change was necessary to better handle the situation on the border facing the strengthening of Hezbollah.”
Berry was quoted answering that “the region is calm, the situation is good and there is no need for a change.”
Kochavi stepped in and reportedly said, “I’m sorry my friend, we think entirely differently, UNIFIL don’t enter villages and cities [and are therefore not as aware of the situation as the IDF is].”
Kochavi had called on Haley to help bring about a change in the mandate of the UN interim force, allowing it to disarm Hezbollah.
According to the report, an Israeli diplomat later apologized to Haley for the argument, but she said she was not disturbed by it. In fact, she added, seeing the reality of the Israeli side was a good thing that would influence her work at the UN.
Last week, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Haley had discussed ways to make the 15,000-strong UNIFIL mandate more effective in enforcing Security Council Resolution 1701 passed at the end of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
According to the terms of that resolution, the territory from the Israel-Lebanon border to the Litani River is to be an “area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon.”
According to Israeli estimates, Hezbollah now has about 150,000 missiles.