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The situation in the Middle East
On 12 December, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2005/61), in which it condemned the terrorist bombing that killed the Lebanese Member of Parliament, editor and journalist Gibran Tueni and three others. The Council reiterated its concern about the destabilizing impact of political assassinations and other terrorist acts in Lebanon; expressed readiness to consider positively any request for assistance from the Government of Lebanon in bringing to justice all those responsible for the assassination and others before; and reiterated its call for the strict respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon.
International Independent Investigation Commission
On 13 December, Detlev Mehlis, the head of the International Independent Investigation Commission investigating the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, presented his second report (S/2005/775, annex) at a public meeting of the Council. He recommended the extension of the Commission’s mandate for a further six months, as requested in a letter dated 5 December 2005 from the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Siniora, to the Secretary-General (S/2005/762, annex). The Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic, Fayssal Mekdad, and the Chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of Lebanon, Ibrahim Assaf, also addressed the Council.
The Council members continued their discussions in informal consultations, attended by Mr. Mehlis and the Secretary-General. The Council members reiterated their support for the work of the Commission; supported the extension of its mandate for a further six months; and agreed that the Lebanese requests for further international assistance, contained in a letter dated 13 December from the Prime Minister to the Secretary-General, merited consideration.
In informal consultations on 14 and 15 December, the Council discussed a draft resolution extending the mandate of the Commission for an initial period of six months and addressing the Lebanese requests for additional international assistance. The draft resolution also covered the level of cooperation offered to the Commission by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic. On 15 December, the Council unanimously adopted the draft resolution as resolution 1644 (2005).
United Nations Disengagement Observer Force
In informal consultations on 16 December the Council members heard a briefing from the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi, on UNDOF. He described the area of operation as quiet but tense and emphasized the need to tackle the Middle East peace process in all its aspects, a point echoed by the Council members. On 21 December, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1648 (2005), by which it extended the mandate of UNDOF until 30 June 2006, and an accompanying presidential statement (S/PRST/2005/65).
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
On 20 December, at an open meeting, the Council heard a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The Under-Secretary-General called on the parties to return to calm and reminded them of their obligations under the road map. He updated the Council on preparations for the Palestinian legislative elections and on the economic situation, including the outcome of the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. He reported that violations of the Blue Line continued and reiterated that one violation did not justify another. In consultations, the Council members discussed the need for implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, the obligations of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and the preparations for the forthcoming Palestinian elections.