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UN votes to extend peacekeeping mission on the Israel-Lebanon border

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UN votes to extend peacekeeping mission on the Israel-Lebanon border

UNIFIL in Lebanon
Photo: AFP

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will vote today regarding the renewal of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s (UNIFIL) mandate.

Israel has demanded that the mandate be significantly enhanced—to include the inspection of private property—in order to adequately carry out its mission. According to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), UNIFIL is currently operating with “zero efficiency”.

Tensions recently escalated between Israel and the Iranian-backed militia Hezbollah; the latter dominates Lebanon’s political and security apparatus. The IDF announced air strikes on Hezbollah observation points on August 26, in retaliation for the downing of an Israeli drone. The strikes follows an incident in late July when the IDF intercepted a group of Hezbollah fighters attempting to infiltrate the Israeli border.

While the US supports Israel’s appeal, Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wahbe has opposed any change to UNIFIL. Despite Lebanon’s protests, US threats of exercising its veto are expected to sway the UNSC to appraise Israeli concerns. Following recent setbacks regarding the reintroduction of UNSC sanctions on Iran, the US could attempt to leverage UNIFIL negotiations to gain concessions in that respect. Nonetheless, expect a deal to be reached before UNIFIL’s mandate expires on August 31. Neither the US nor Israel would prefer to radically shift the security dynamic along the Israeli-Lebanese border at a time when Lebanon is highly destabilised. A US veto could drive Hezbollah to increase its harassment of IDF forces, potentially leading to deadly consequences, particularly for Lebanese.

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