Statement by Mr.Vladimir Safronkov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the situation along the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon
We thank Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UnderSecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, for his detailed briefing.
We also welcome the participation of the Permanent Representatives of Israel and of Lebanon in today’s meeting. At the outset, we would like to point out that the Russian Federation has historically maintained friendly, constructive and mutually respectful relations with both Lebanon and Israel. We therefore support both States’ right to peaceful development without challenges to their national security or violations of their sovereignty.
That is why we firmly believe that maintaining a calm environment on the line of separation between Lebanon and Israel is essential not only to preventing any escalation in the area, but for ensuring stability more broadly. One of our most exemplary missions is deployed along the Blue Line, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), whose peacekeepers are serving in difficult circumstances, considering the general security crisis in the Middle East. Russia has remained in close contact with both the Lebanese and the Israelis, as well as the United Nations personnel, including with regard to the events currently taking place.
With regard to the situation that has developed around the discovery of these tunnels, whose existence UNIFIL confirmed in the past few days, we would chiefly like to focus on the following points. While we understand everyone’s alarm, for the sake of stability we believe that all the parties should refrain from emotional polemics. Right now, it is critical that the parties immediately engage in constructive, professional dialogue aimed at eliminating controversial points. In the Israeli-Lebanon context there are opportunities for that. The existing tripartite mechanism in Naqoura for preventing and resolving incidents works well. We have also taken into consideration UNIFIL’s preliminary conclusions about the violation of resolution 1701 (2006).
Our view is that all violations of the resolution’s provisions must cease, on both sides. That means all of them. We cannot have a selective approach to the resolution’s implementation. With regard to the Israeli military’s launch of its Operation Northern Shield, we naturally recognize Israel’s right to defend its national security, including by preventing any illegal penetration of its territory by anyone.
However, we hope that the action undertaken in that regard will not run counter to the provisions of resolution 1701 (2006) defining the rules of conduct of the parties in the area of the Blue Line, which is not an internationally recognized boundary. The commitments relating to it are mutually binding only between the two parties. We welcome the clear messages from the leadership of both the States involved signalling that they do not intend to engage in direct confrontation.
We heard a similar message in the conversation between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Aoun, speaking for the Lebanese side, reaffirmed his commitment to resolution 1701 (2006) and expressed his willingness to take all necessary measures to resolve the problem based on the clarification of all the circumstances.
We want to emphasize the importance of seeing both parties display a sense of responsibility and restraint and avoid provocative steps and abrasive statements that might further exacerbate an already tense situation in the Middle East. Separately, we would like to focus on the fact that the tunnel problem should not become a reason for hasty conclusions about the functioning of UNIFIL.
The mission should not be subjected to politicized aspirations that have little to do with improving its effectiveness. Any efforts to undermine UNIFIL’s capacity would be unacceptable, considering that its peacekeepers’ work has a stabilizing effect not only along the Blue Line separating Lebanon and Israel but inside Lebanon itself and in the Middle East generally.
We want to emphasize that all disagreements that arise either in the area of the Blue Line or with regard to the agenda item for Lebanon should be addressed through political dialogue and consultations, as every relevant Security Council resolution makes clear. The fact is that what is going on in this part of the Middle East is the result of many years of conflicts, crises and wars.
Stabilizing the situation requires the cooperation of the States concerned with a view to increasing trust and relaunching international efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East.