Israel Wants U.N. to Help Monitor Border

The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 16, 2006; 8:51 PM

UNITED NATIONS -- Israel wants an expanded U.N. force to help monitor the Lebanese border to prevent Iran and Syria from replenishing Hezbollah's weapons, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Wednesday.

After meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan for more than an hour, Livni made clear that implementation of U.N. resolution 1701 that led to Monday's cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah is a test for the international community and the Lebanese government.

"I think this is a moment of truth for the international community," she said. "A full implementation of resolution 1701 can lead to a change in the region, in Lebanon, and lead to a better future for us all."

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced that the secretary-general was sending his special adviser, Vijay Nambiar, and his top envoy for Lebanon-Syria issues, Terje Roed-Larsen, back to the Mideast to talk to the parties to try to obtain full implementation of the resolution.

Livni said enforcement of a U.N. arms embargo authorized in the resolution, which blocks any entity in Lebanon except the national government from obtaining weapons from abroad, is crucial. She also accused Hezbollah of violating the resolution's call to unconditionally release two Israeli soldiers whose capture by the militant Islamic group sparked the 34-day conflict that claimed over 900 lives.

The Security Council resolution authorized up to 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers to help 15,000 Lebanese troops extend their authority throughout south Lebanon, which Hezbollah controls, and called on Israeli troops to withdraw "in parallel." The aim is to create a buffer zone free of Hezbollah fighters between the Litani River, 18 miles north of Israel, and the U.N.-drawn border.

Livni said she discussed with Annan the implementation of the "crucial" provision in the resolution calling on the Lebanese government to secure its borders and entry points to prevent arms going to anyone but its own forces, and authorizing UNIFIL to assist the government "at its request."

Israel believes that leaving the monitoring of Lebanon's borders to the government is "not enough," she said.

"We expect that the international community, or that the new international force, will assist the Lebanese government to monitor the international borders in order to prevent Iran and Syria from rearmament of Hezbollah," Livni said.

In an interview earlier Wednesday with CNN, she claimed the Israeli government has evidence that Iran and Syria are backing a Hezbollah rearmament.

She called the current situation "sensitive ... explosive in a way," but said "there is a chance for change." The Israeli army, the Lebanese army and the U.N. peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL are meeting every day and working to implement the resolution, "so let's be positive," she said.

One of the key issues is how long Israeli troops will remain in south Lebanon.

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