Annan: Israel’s ceasefire violation endangers fragile calm

Secretary-General Kofi Annan briefing correspondents at UN Headquarters in New York on the issue of the Middle East. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been in touch with top Israeli and Lebanese officials today following an Israeli raid in eastern Lebanon which he warned endangers the fragile calm that has generally held in the region since Monday.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about a violation by the Israeli side of the cessation of hostilities as laid out in Security Council resolution 1701,” a UN spokesman said in a statement. Adopted on 11 August, that text mandated a halt to the fighting which took effect three days later.

There have also been several air violations by Israeli military aircraft, according to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is helping to support and coordinate the Israeli withdrawal.

Mr. Annan said violations of Security Council resolution 1701 such as the Israeli raid today “endanger the fragile calm that was reached after much negotiation and undermine the authority of the Government of Lebanon.”

He called on all parties “to respect strictly the arms embargo, exercise maximum restraint, avoid provocative actions and display responsibility in implementing resolution 1701.”

The Secretary-General has today spoken to the Prime Ministers of Israel and Lebanon about this matter, according to the spokesman, who added that Mr. Annan has further instructed that daily reports of compliance on the cessation of hostilities by the parties should be provided to the Security Council.

Under resolution 1701, UNIFIL is to be given more robust rules of engagement and expanded to include up to 15,000 peacekeepers to support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy across the south of the country at the same time as Israel withdraws from the area.

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