An independent Lebanon-based monitoring group on Saturday rebuffed United Nations' assertions that Israel is the only violator of the Security Council Resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, and accused international peacekeepers of cooperating with Hizballah.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has become a "hostage of Hizballah," and is anything but fulfilling its mandate, charged Toni Nissi, general coordinator of the International-Lebanese Committee for UN Security Council Resolution 1559, during a press conference in New York.
Nissi noted that Resolution 1701 that ended the recent war demands implementation of Resolution 1559, which outlaws all independent militias in Lebanon.
However, Hizballah has not only rearmed, but is today stronger than it was prior to the Second Lebanon War because UNIFIL, despite being bolstered with an additional 10,000 troops, has refused to carry out its duties.
"Resolution 1701 says clearly: No arms south of the Litani [River]. No militias south of the Litani. That is why UNIFIL is here," stated Nissi. "Is the UNIFIL mandate to coordinate with Hizballah or to kick Hizballah out, south of the Litani?"
Nissi's public accusations came just two days after the current commander of UNIFIL, Italian Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano, told reporters in New York that Hizballah "is one of [the] parties that agrees with 1701."
Graziano went on to suggest that Israel's ongoing overflights are the only real violation of the resolution.
Nissi acknowledged that UNIFIL cannot completely remove Hizballah from southern Lebanon, since most Lebanese civilians own personal weapons and Hizballah's ranks are filled with average southern Lebanon villagers.
Nissi did, however, take UNIFIL to task for allowing Hizballah to blackmail it, rather than go before the Security Council and request an altered mandate that would give it the authority to truly fulfill its mission.
Presently, UNIFIL requires the permission of the Lebanese government to physically confront Hizballah, enter Lebanese urban areas or seal Lebanon's porous border with Syria. But the Western-backed Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora is not about to grant that permission, having recently struck a power-sharing deal with Hizballah that gives the terror group veto power over all major government decisions.
In the meantime, with UNIFIL failing to do its job, Israel argues that its overflights are necessary to keep tabs on Hizballah's growing strength and the deployment of its weapons.