Hizbullah Katyusha launchers in Lebanon
Hizbullah Katyusha launchers in Lebanon phto: file

Despite a clear UN resolution and a 19-year-old national agreement calling for the disarmament of all non-governmental militias, Lebanon's cabinet voted Monday to allow the Hizbullah terrorist organization to keep its weapons arsenal. The government decision specifically approves Hizbullah activities aimed at Israel.

Four ministers from Christian-majority parties... expressed "reservations".

Four ministers from Christian-majority parties represented in the government expressed "reservations" over the "resistance against Israel" clause, but Lebanese Information Minister Tareq Mitri said that "the document was approved unanimously."

According to Mitri, the government approved "the right of Lebanon, its people, its army and the resistance to liberate its land in the Shebaa Farms, Kfarshuba Hill and Ghajar," which are located on Israel's northern border with Lebanon. In an apparent contradiction with state recognition and approval accorded "the resistance" - a euphemism for Hizbullah - the statement declared that "the unity and the authority of the state would be the guiding principle of all government decisions and actions."

The Lebanese parliament must now approve the manifesto with a vote of confidence, which will allow the government to officially commence its administration. The new government was formed on July 11, following a violent insurrection in May by Hizbullah and other Shiite militias that forced the majority bloc to accept a Hizbullah veto over government decisions.

Manifesto Contradicts Lebanese, UN Obligations

The terms of the Lebanese government's policy statement allowing Hizbullah to retain its arsenal contradicts United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. The UN-brokered ceasefire agreement ending the 2006 Second Lebanon War, embodied in Resolution 1701, called for the disarming of all non-governmental entities in Lebanon. More than two years later, that condition has yet to be fulfilled and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has stated outright that it would not enforce it.

The closest UNIFIL has come to confronting Hizbullah, as reported by the Lebanon-based Al-Akhbar newspaper, has been to issue "secret orders" to use "all means" to prevent Hizbullah forces from approaching Israeli pilots who may be shot down in Lebanon.

In addition to Resolution 1701, the Lebanese government manifesto violates the terms of the 1989 Taef Agreement, which was meant to be a "national reconciliation accord" ending a Lebanese civil war that had been raging for decades. According to the agreement, the State of Lebanon was to exercise authority "over all Lebanese territories gradually, with the state's own forces."

To that end, the Taef document calls for the "disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.... The militias' weapons shall be delivered to the State of Lebanon within a period of 6 months, beginning with the approval of the national accord charter."