Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls for Tougher Line Against Hezbollah in Lebanon

Israel U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon display pictures of four victims of a recent attack in Israel, as he speaks during a Security Council debate on the Middle East conflict Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
AP/Bebeto Matthews

NEW YORK CITY — Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called Saturday for the United Nations to get tougher with Hezbollah, urging the Security Council to adopt a stronger mandate for the body’s peacekeeping mission in the region.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was deployed to southern Lebanon in 2006, and its mandate was to make sure that the Iran-backed group did not use the area to stockpile weapons. The U.S. and Israel have called for a tougher mandate with a stronger focus on fighting Hezbollah. The mandate will be renewed this week.

Despite UNIFIL’s focus, Israel and the U.S. have both pointed to signs on the ground and claims from Hezbollah itself that the group has amassed a large stockpile of weapons in southern Lebanon — weapons it can use to attack Israel.

The U.S. Mission to the UN noted that, in April, Hezbollah fighters showed off weapons to journalists near UNIFIL’s headquarters.

Both Haley and Danon have repeatedly grilled the UN over UNIFIL’s inaction, with Haley on Wednesday calling for tougher action. “UNIFIL has a vitally important mission. Regrettably, it is not pursuing its mission aggressively and the security situation in southern Lebanon has become much more dangerous,” Haley said in a statement before urging the Security Council to avoid a “business-as-usual” approach.

When UNIFIL’s chief, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, pushed back against U.S. criticism and said there was no evidence of weapons transfers in southern Lebanon, Haley accused Beary of having “an embarrassing lack of understanding on what’s going on around him.”

Danon echoed Haley’s push for a stronger mandate for the group Saturday. “U.S. Ambassador Haley is correct. UNIFIL cannot continue to remain blind to the weapons buildup in southern Lebanon and they must put an end to Hezbollah’s Security Council violations to ensure calm in our region,” he said.

“I call on the Security Council to adopt a more robust UNIFIL mandate that will address the serious security threats posed by Hezbollah,” Danon added.

The argument over UNIFIL’s mandate taps into a broader claims by the U.S. and Israel that the UN focuses on criticism of Israel while ignoring Islamist groups. In July, Haley criticized the Security Council for obsessing over Israel while ignoring crimes by Hezbollah.

“But truth be told, the Security Council often makes the Middle East more complicated than it actually is,” she said. “It obsesses over Israel and it refuses to acknowledge one of the chief sources of conflict and killing in the Middle East – that is, Iran and its partner militia, Lebanese Hezbollah.”

She also blasted the Council for refusing to even name Hezbollah. “Remarkably, this Council cannot even bring itself to use the word ‘Hezbollah’ in recent resolutions or statements on Lebanon. Many here are happy to name Israel, time after time, but Hezbollah is somehow off limits,” she said. “It’s absurd. Worse than that, it’s dangerous.”

Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter:  @AdamShawNY



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