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II. Implementation of resolution 1559 (2004)
B. Extension of Lebanese Government control over all Lebanese territory
33. In my recent report, I also referred to my concern over a growing threat from extremist Islamist groups, who have reportedly found safe haven in Palestinian refugee camps, to the presence of the United Nations in Lebanon. The presence and reportedly growing strength of such groups stands in direct contradiction to resolution 1559 (2004) and is deeply disconcerting, threatening not only the United Nations presence, but also undermining the Government of Lebanon’s exertion of authority and its monopoly on the use of force throughout its territory. In the aftermath of the twin bus bombings of 13 February 2007, the Internal Security Force arrested a number of members of the Fatah al-Islam group, most of whom were Syrian nationals. Lebanese officials have informed me of their belief that Fatah al-Islam, which shares ideological tenets with Al-Qaida, is provided with funds by the Damascus-headquartered Fatah-Intifada militia and is composed primarily of Syrian nationals and Palestinians ordinarily resident in the Syrian Arab Republic, though there are also Lebanese and members of other nationalities among its activists. Fatah al-Islam is believed to number between 200 and 250 members and to be under the leadership of a Jordanian-Palestinian wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of a United States diplomat in Amman in 2001. The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic has written, in a letter to the President of the Security Council dated 26 March 2007, that it categorically denies accusations directed against it by some Lebanese authorities of coordination between Syrian bodies and Fatah al-Islam. The Syrian Minister of the Interior has asserted that the group is connected to Al-Qaida and had contacts with the former leader of Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. According to the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Jordanian-Palestinian leader of Fatah al-Islam served three years in prison until 2006 and is wanted for renewed arrest in the Syrian Arab Republic. The Government of the Syrian Arab Republic also repeated in its letter that it regrets these accusations and affirmed that it condemns all crimes and continues to stand by Lebanon in order to strengthen stability and security therein.
34. I further note that extension of the Government’s control over all Lebanese territory also remains contingent on a resolution of the continued Israeli presence in the northern part of Ghajar. The issue continues to be discussed through the tripartite meeting channel, and I expect it to be resolved in accordance with the Security Council’s recent presidential statement.
C. Disbanding and disarmament of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias
42. As concerns the Palestinian militias in Lebanon, there has been no progress or action towards the disarming and disbanding of such groups. My Special Representative has continued his dialogue with the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon, who is also in close contact with the Lebanese authorities on all issues of mutual concern.
63. In addition, the domestic and regional political process must also return to addressing the issue of the Palestinian militias, in accordance with the agreements reached in last year’s national dialogue.
64. All regional and extraregional parties are called upon to provide all necessary support. With the efforts to implement in full resolution 1701 (2006), much progress has been achieved. I thank all troop contributors to UNIFIL, all providers of bilateral technical assistance, and all donor countries. I also wish to commend the Lebanese Armed Forces, in particular, for the important role they have played in recent months in their efforts to establish the Government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force and extend its authority throughout all of Lebanon’s territory.
65. I reiterate my call on all parties and actors to support Lebanon’s reconstruction and political transformation, and to urgently take all enabling measures to this end, as outlined in the Taif Agreement and in resolutions 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006), and 1701 (2006).
66. I will continue my efforts for the purpose of the full implementation of these and all other relevant Security Council resolutions pertaining to the restoration of the territorial integrity, full sovereignty, and political independence of Lebanon and the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace throughout the entire Middle Eastern region, consistent with all relevant Security Council resolutions, especially resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).