UN official welcomes Israeli acceptance of withdrawal from Lebanese village

08:28, November 19, 2010      

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A UN official on Thursday welcomed Israel's decision to withdraw its defense forces from the disputed northern part of the Lebanese village of Ghajar.

The statement came as UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams spoke to reporters following his briefing to the UN Security Council on resolution 1701.

Adopted by the 15-member body in 2006, resolution 1701 requires Israel and Lebanon to meet key obligations in order to sustain the end of hostilities. It includes provisions that call for respect of the dividing "Blue Line" that divides both sides, the disarmament of militias operating in Lebanon, and an end to arms smuggling in the area.

"The Israeli Defense Forces' withdrawal from northern Ghajar would be an important step towards the full implementation of 1701, " said Williams.

"The United Nations would then seek to continue to work closely with the parties in the process to resolve the permanent status of Ghajar as soon as the withdrawal is complete," he added.

On Wednesday, the Israeli security cabinet accepted a UN proposal for a withdrawal of its forces from the disputed village, a move that was lauded by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

However, "there is much other work to do," said Williams. "In recent months, we've seen a number of incidents of considerable concern," including the eruption of violence on Aug. 3 along the UN-drawn border that resulted in the deaths of one Israeli soldier and four Lebanese, including a journalist.

"We cannot afford to see any repetition of that sort of incident," said Williams.

"Progress made so far could be undermined if the parties do not couple the reassertions of support with further concrete steps," he added.

Williams will be traveling to the region early next week to meet with Israeli leaders, along with the UN peacekeeping force commander in Lebanon Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas.

Source: Xinhua


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