The head of Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah, warned the United Nations Monday night against renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The UN Security Council is set to meet Wednesday to consider extension of the peacekeeping force’s mandate, which expires this Thursday.
“A foreign armed force that moves on Lebanese territory without authorization of the government and Lebanese army, without coordination with the Lebanese army, where is the sovereignty in all that?” Nasrallah said.
“The people of the south will not allow a decision to be applied against the will of the Lebanese government,” he said.
Nasrallah said the UN Security Council is “not seeing the Israeli violations in Lebanon and the new occupation in Ghajar … The Americans want the south to be devoid of any defense capabilities. They want UNIFIL to be spies for Israel,” he claimed.
“Why is UNIFIL only present in Lebanon? Why is there no UNIFIL in northern Israel?” Nasrallah asked, and said the Lebanese government is “trying to correct last year’s mistake” regarding the UNIFIL mandate resolution, which enables UNIFIL to move freely in south Lebanon without coordinating with the Lebanese Army.
While the Security Council is debating the extension of the UNIFIL mandate, senior officials from Iran and the United States plan to arrive in the Lebanese capital.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and US energy envoy Amos Hochstein are both scheduled to arrive in Beirut.
Hochstein is set to arrive Wednesday, the al-Liwaa news outlet reported. The American envoy is scheduled to meet with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habiib and Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun.
Hezbollah has a significant presence in the Lebanese Parliament and in the government cabinet.
The Iranian proxy maintains a strong military presence in a majority of the villages throughout southern Lebanon, in violation of UNSC Resolution 1701, the ceasefire agreement with Israel that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
“This resolution calls for the full cessation of hostilities, the deployment of Lebanese forces to Southern Lebanon, parallel withdrawal of Israeli forces behind the Blue Line, strengthening the UN force (UNIFIL) to facilitate the entry of Lebanese Forces in the region and the establishment of a demilitarized zone between the Blue Line and the Litani River,” the summary of the resolution states.
“It also calls for UN Secretary-General to develop proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords as well as Security Council Resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) and imposes an arms embargo on Lebanon. The resolution was formally agreed to by both parties within 48 hours of its adoption.”
Needless to say, Hezbollah has largely ignored the terms of the resolution since its inception.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a meeting Monday night (Aug. 28) that the potential for escalation on the Lebanese-Israeli border is growing because of “ongoing provocations” and “flagrant violations” by Hezbollah. “Iran is pushing Hezbollah to act,” Gallant told Guterres.