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II. Implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006)
C. Disarming armed groups
32. On 8 April, an armed clash between members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) in Qossaya, eastern Lebanon, resulted in at least one fatality. That incident highlighted once again the anomaly of PFLP-GC and Fatah al-Intifada military bases in Lebanon and the threat that they pose to Lebanon’s sovereignty. The military bases are beyond the control of the State and, with the exception of Naame, near Beirut, straddle the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, posing an added challenge to Lebanon’s control of the border, which is of concern to me. I have called upon the Government of Lebanon to dismantle those bases and on the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to cooperate with these efforts. In that regard, I take note of the statement made on 3 March by the leader of Fatah al-Intifada, Abu Musa, that his organization’s paramilitary bases could be relocated in coordination with the Lebanese authorities and that Palestinian weapons should be considered part of the discussion on Lebanon’s national defence strategy in the National Dialogue. In fact, the National Dialogue decided in 2006 that Palestinian military groups outside the camps should be disarmed, and that decision was reaffirmed in the ministerial statement of November 2009. I believe it is time to make progress on that commitment.
35. Since its reconvening in May 2008, the National Dialogue has served to preserve domestic stability, in particular prior to the parliamentary elections of June 2009 and the municipal elections of May 2010. In compliance with the mandate given to the National Dialogue to arrive at a national defence strategy, a number of participants have presented their positions on this issue. To date, not all participants have nominated their members to the committee of experts, which does not seem to meet regularly. The decision taken by the National Dialogue in 2006 regarding the disarmament of Palestinian military groups outside the refugee camps and security inside the camps, which was included in the commitments undertaken by the Government in its ministerial statement of November 2009, has yet to be implemented. At recent meetings, a number of participants refused to allow the issue of Hizbullah’s weapons to be broached, arguing that discussion in the National Dialogue should not serve to question the “resistance” but should, instead, focus on reaching agreement on a national defence strategy. I encourage participants to remain focused on the development of a national defence strategy that will address the relationship between armed groups and the State, with a view to completing the disarmament of armed militias, as called for by resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006).
D. Arms embargo
41. Inevitably, the effective management of Lebanon’s borders continues to be affected by the fact that the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic has not been delineated and by the continued presence of Palestinian military bases which straddle the border between the two countries. Furthermore, the overall management of the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic is dependent on the extent to which there is actual cooperation on border management between security agencies from the two countries. I have called upon the Government of Lebanon to dismantle the bases and on the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic to cooperate with such efforts. According to Lebanese officials, this cooperation is still nascent and requires further development. I am confident that progress will be made in this respect in coming months.
III. Security and safety of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
48. UNIFIL continued to monitor cases in the Lebanese military court against individuals or groups accused of being involved in planning or attempting to carry out attacks against UNIFIL. One case, against 13 Palestinian defendants who had been accused of, inter alia, forming an armed group, monitoring and attacking the Lebanese Armed Forces and monitoring UNIFIL with intent to attack with explosive devices and weapons, was concluded. The judge sentenced 12 of the 13 defendants 9 of whom remain at large and were tried in absentia — to prison terms with hard labour and acquitted the other. The judge also sentenced 13 defendants, 11 of whom remain at large and were tried in absentia, and acquitted 1 in a case involving a failed roadside bomb attack on UNIFIL personnel in Tyre in July 2007. A second, related case is ongoing. Court proceedings also began against a group of Palestinians accused of enlisting in an armed terror cell with the objective of, inter alia, monitoring UNIFIL and carrying out terrorist acts by planting and detonating explosive devices.
66. I call upon the Government of Lebanon to implement past decisions taken by the National Dialogue with respect to the elimination of Palestinian military bases, some of which straddle the border between Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic, and to address the issue of arms inside the official refugee camps, in compliance with its ministerial statement. Officials from the Syrian Arab Republic have stated that their Government is ready to support the efforts of the Government of Lebanon to achieve this goal, provided they receive a request from the Government of Lebanon in this respect.
67. The situation of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon remains a subject of grave concern. I believe that more efforts need to be made to improve their living conditions, while ensuring the peaceful coexistence of the Lebanese and Palestinian communities and without prejudice to the settlement of the Palestinian refugee question in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement. I am concerned about serious shortfalls being faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in funding for its regular programmes, aimed at delivering basic services to the Palestinian refugees, and for the reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared camp, which was destroyed in 2007. I therefore call upon the Government of Lebanon and the donor community to make a concerted effort to address the dire socio-economic situation of the Palestinian refugee community as a matter of priority. I urge the international donor community, including regional countries, to continue and, wherever possible, increase their support for UNRWA activities.
68. While resolution 1701 (2006) is concerned primarily with the situation between Lebanon and Israel, I remain keenly aware that this situation is greatly influenced by dynamics affecting the region as a whole. In particular, the implementation by both parties of their obligations under the resolution takes place in a particular regional context that can either facilitate or render more difficult the actions required for implementation. Tangible progress on the Middle East peace process would have a positive impact on the full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006) and on the stability of Lebanon.
69. I call on both parties to take the steps necessary to achieve what Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) terms a long-term solution that would govern their relations. The achievement of that solution cannot and should not be dissociated from the need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all relevant resolutions of the Security Council, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 1515 (2003). I call upon the parties and upon all Member States to work decisively towards this goal.