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I should be grateful if you would circulate this letter and its annex as a document of the Security Council.
The situation in the Middle East
On 10 January, the Assistant Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations, Hédi Annabi, informed the Security Council about the incident that had occurred the day before in the immediate vicinity of the Blue Line in the Shab’a area. As a result of that incident, one French military observer died and another soldier of Swedish nationality was injured. The Assistant Secretary-General gave details regarding the circumstances of the incident, which originated in an attack by Hezbollah against a patrol of the Israel Defense Forces. The Israeli military response to the attack resulted in the killing and wounding of the two aforementioned military observers.
In a statement to the press read by the President of the Security Council on 11 January, the members of the Council reiterated their call on the parties to live up to their commitments to fully respect the Blue Line and to exercise the utmost restraint. The members of the Council paid tribute to those who lost their lives or were injured and expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims. They also reaffirmed the imperative to respect, in all circumstances, the safety and security of United Nations personnel.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
On 13 January, the Council held an open meeting at which the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, gave his regular briefing on the situation in the Middle East. Its main aspects concentrated on the Palestinian presidential elections held on 9 January. Subsequently, informal consultations were held, at which Council members welcomed the results of the Palestinian elections, and considered the current situation in the Middle East and the means to resume a genuine political process and advance towards a just and sustainable peace in the region.
At the end of the meeting the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2005/2) referring to the following issues: the Palestinian presidential elections, the future political process, in particular the Palestinian legislative elections, reinforcement of the Palestinian institutions, international assistance to the people and the Palestinian Authority and the necessity to implement the road map for a viable, democratic and sovereign Palestinian State, in peaceful and secure coexistence with Israel.
United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
On 26 January, the Council held informal consultations during which the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations presented the report of the Secretary-General regarding the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The members of the Council analysed the current situation in the area of operations of UNIFIL, expressing their concern about violations of the Blue Line. They also considered the draft resolution on the extension of the mandate of the Force.
On 24 January — before the above-mentioned consultations — the members of the Council held a meeting with troop-contributing countries for UNIFIL.
On 28 January the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1583 (2005), by which the mandate of UNIFIL was extended for six more months, until 31 July 2005.
Statements by the President
Statements made to the press by the President of the Security Council in January 2005
Palestinian elections (10 January)
The Security Council welcomes the presidential elections of the Palestinian Authority held yesterday, 9 January 2005.
The members of the Council congratulate the Palestinian people on this election.
The Security Council will discuss this matter in depth next Thursday, 13 January 2005.
Attacks and loss of life in the Middle East (11 January)
The members of the Security Council received a briefing from the Secretariat yesterday following the lethal attack by Hezbollah against an Israeli patrol and the Israeli military response, which resulted in the killing and wounding of United Nations military observers on 9 January.
The members of the Council reiterated their call on the parties to fulfil the commitments they have made to respect in its entirety the Blue Line and to exercise the utmost restraint.
The members of the Council paid tribute to those who have lost their lives or been injured in the service of the United Nations, and expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families. They reaffirmed the imperative to respect, in all circumstances, the safety and security of United Nations personnel.