Russia has provided Hezbollah with diplomatic cover at the United Nations during tense disagreements over the extension of a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Israeli sources claim.
Last week the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to renew Resolution 1701 but only after the US and Israel agreed to remove paragraphs that were critical of Russia’s ally in the region, Hezbollah.
Moscow is said to have threatened to veto the initial draft which accused the group designated as terrorist by US, Israel and several European countries of conducting prohibited military activity in southern Lebanon in violation of Resolution 1701. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Russia ensured that all mentions of Hezbollah were omitted from the resolution.
Both the US and Israel wanted to add a more muscular approach to the UN peacekeeping mission, which has been extended annually since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley slated the 15-member council during last week’s discussion for not seeing the threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah. “They have thousands of missiles and thousands of trained fighters all beyond the control of the Lebanese government. It is apparent to everyone who cares to see it,” she said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also criticised the resolution saying that the status quo cannot continue. He is also said to have clashed with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, over arms trafficking by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
Their claim contradicts the commander Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, head of the UN mission in Lebanon, who told The Associated Press that there was no evidence of the arms trafficking and stockpiling in Hezbollah strongholds.
Haley – who accused Beary of being “blind” to illegal arms trafficking – called for the force to do more about Hezbollah’s stockpiling of weapons, which Israel views a major threat to its security.
On their part Hezbollah has recently accused US warplanes of preventing aid reaching a stranded Daesh convoy.
While US and Israeli claims about Hezbollah within Lebanon is being contested their presence in the region, however, has increased since the war in Syria erupted in 2011. With Russian support it has grown in prominence over the last five years. Militants from its 50,000 strong force have dramatically influenced the direction of the conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen in Iran’s favour.