Haley: UN should investigate Hezbollah violations in Lebanon

U.S ambassador to the UN urges peacekeepers in southern Lebanon to take on an expanded mission.

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Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley
Reuters

The United States wants UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon to take on an expanded mission and investigate alleged violations by Hezbollah in the volatile area, Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Monday.

The UN Security Council is set to vote on renewing the UN interim force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) later this month, and Haley said she will seek "significant improvements" to its mandate.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres informed the council in a letter sent on Friday that he intended to look at ways in which UNIFIL could beef up its efforts "regarding the illegal presence of armed personnel, weapons or infrastructure inside its area of operations."

"We share the secretary-general's strong desire to enhance UNIFIL's efforts to prevent the spread of illegal arms in southern Lebanon," Haley said in a statement on Monday, according to AFP.

"These arms -- which are almost entirely in the hands of Hezbollah terrorists -- threaten the security and stability of the region UNIFIL must increase its capacity and commitment to investigating and reporting these violations," she added.

In June, Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon presented new information to the Security Council revealing that Hezbollah had established a series of outposts along the border with Israel under the guise of agricultural NGO “Green Without Borders”.

The UN, however, rejected Israel’s claims, saying that “Green Without Borders” members have planted trees in the area, but it "has not observed any unauthorized armed persons at the locations or found any basis to report a violation of resolution 1701."

Guterres is expected to discuss UNIFIL's mission when he pays his first visit as UN chief to Israel and the Palestinian Authority later this month.

Set up in 1978, UNIFIL was beefed up after the 2006 Second Lebanon War and now has 10,500 troops on the ground monitoring the ceasefire and helping the Lebanese government secure its borders.

A vote on UNIFIL's mandate at the council is tentatively scheduled for August 30.

AFP contributed to this report.