The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday approved Resolution 2650, extending the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon until Aug. 31, 2023.

In its resolution, council asked that UNIFIL take “temporary and exceptional measures” to help the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with food, fuel, medication and logistical support,” adding that the LAF and the United Nations must set concrete benchmarks and timetables for the deployment of the LAF in southern Lebanon.

Richard M. Mills, the U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, welcomed the resolution, saying it would enable the peacekeepers to act independently and conduct “announced and unannounced patrols.”

But he also warned that “UNIFIL peacekeepers are being blocked—with increasing frequency—from conducting mandated tasks and accessing sites of concern,” according to a readout of the meeting published on the United Nations’ official website.

Mills also noted the proliferation of “[shipping] containers placed by Green Without Borders [a purported Lebanese environmental group accused by the Israeli defense establishment of providing civilian cover for Hezbollah’s illegal presence on the Israeli border].”

He added that the containers are obstructing UNIFIL’s access to the Blue Line [the U.N.-demarcated international border between Israel and Lebanon] and are “heightening tensions in the area, further demonstrating that this so-called environmental group is acting on Hezbollah’s behalf.”

According to Mills, the Security Council has made clear through its resolution that Hezbollah’s continued amassing of weapons must stop.

Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations, welcomed the resolution’s “strengthened language expressing council members’ unified condemnation of the continued maintenance of weapons by armed groups outside the state’s control in violation of Resolution 1701 [passed in 2006 following the Second Lebanon War].

“The maintenance of weapons by non-state groups has been a grave threat to Lebanon’s sovereignty, security and stability, as well as to the region as a whole. The inclusion of such a condemnation in a unanimous resolution by the council reflects a collective expectation that that core issue is urgently addressed in the interest of the Lebanese people and the country’s sovereignty,” she said.

 

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