July 31, 2023
His Excellency Mr. António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres
New York, New York 10017
I write to express American Jewish Committee’s deep concern over the volatile situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border brought about by Hezbollah’s recent provocations. In March, Hezbollah sent an operative who perpetrated acts of terrorism in northern Israel. It allowed Hamas cells to fire thirty-four rockets at Israel from southern Lebanon in April. In May, it conducted a military drill in southern Lebanon involving armed combatants with heavy weapons, including quadcopters simulating attacks on potential Israeli targets. And in April and May, it built tents and deployed armed men on the Israeli side of the Blue Line near a UNIFIL position. Indeed, these incidents are documented in your latest report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (S/2023/522).
As you know, by the end of August, the Security Council will be meeting to renew the mandate of UNIFIL for another year. This mandate is based on resolution 1701, which the Security Council adopted in the summer of 2006 to end month-long hostilities instigated by Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack against Israel.
Resolution 1701 called for a “full cessation of hostilities” along the Lebanese-Israeli border. However, while Israel has complied with the resolution, Hezbollah and its state sponsor, Iran, have flouted their obligations. Resolution 1701 called for full implementation of resolution 1559, including the disbanding and disarming of all militias, but Hezbollah has not been disarmed and, in fact, has significantly increased its military capabilities.
Resolution 1701 called for re-establishing the Lebanese Government’s effective authority along the Lebanese-Israeli border and throughout Lebanon. However, such authority cannot be re-established if Hezbollah remains an armed militia. It also called for an embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon, except as authorized by its government. However, Iran has continued its shipments of weapons to Hezbollah.
In your reports on the implementation of resolution 1701, including your latest report, you have repeatedly said that UNIFIL’s freedom of movement, including along the entire length of the Blue Line, is critical for that force to carry out its peacekeeping responsibilities. Yet Hezbollah has denied UNIFIL access to sites in its area of operation under such pretexts as “private property,” which is frequently a code word for locations where Hezbollah deploys its militants and weapons.
Hezbollah is a threat to peace and security in the region and beyond. It is the main impediment to the fulfillment of UNIFIL’s mandate. The Security Council must use the powers conferred upon it by the UN Charter, including the power to impose sanctions on rogue organizations and their state sponsors, to uphold its resolutions regarding Lebanon.
We call upon you to use your authority to urge the Security Council to uphold its resolutions.