The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) head of mission and force commander major general, Stefano Del Col, met on Thursday with senior officers of the Lebanese and Israeli armies.
UNIFIL reported that Del Col chaired the meeting, which took place at a UN location in Ras Al-Naqoura, and stated that the three sides discussed issues relating to UNIFIL’s mandate, under UN Security Council resolution 1701.
According to UNIFIL, the commander underlined the challenges posed by the ongoing political and security developments in Lebanon, Israel and the wider region.
“These are very sensitive times,” Del Col stated, “as uncertainties around us multiply, extra efforts are required by all concerned to preserve the stability along the Blue Line.”
Del Col addressed the two sides, asserting that “the situation demands utmost caution in undertaking any activities close to the Blue Line. Provocative actions of any kind could trigger incidents endangering the cessation of hostilities.”
He added “in a period like this, even a misunderstanding regarding routine operations or mundane activities along the Blue Line could raise apprehensions on the other side.”
The UNIFIL commander explained that “the liaison and coordination mechanism we have established within the framework of resolution 1701 is designed to avoid precisely such eventualities.”
Therefore, he stressed “it is therefore imperative to keep the communication channels through UNIFIL open so that there is clarity regarding what is happening in your respective domains.”
Del Col advised the two sides to “avoid unilateral action, refrain from rhetorical exchanges and uphold the spirit of this tripartite engagement that has served us well through very challenging circumstances.”
UNIFIL announced that tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL, since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon, as an essential conflict management and confidence building mechanism.